In a recent development, a federal agent has been convicted of witness tampering and obstructing justice in a South Florida federal jury trial. Alberico Ahias Crespo, a Special Agent with the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), was found guilty of multiple charges related to his involvement in an illegal Oxycodone distribution operation. The evidence presented during the trial revealed that Crespo used his position as an agent to protect and advance the Oxycodone trafficking scheme, as well as impede federal health care fraud investigations. The conviction serves as a reminder that no one is above the law, and those who engage in witness tampering and obstruction of justice will face severe consequences.
Jury Convicts Federal Agent of Witness Tampering and Obstructing Justice
Witness tampering and obstruction of justice are serious offenses that strike at the heart of the criminal justice system. Recently, a federal agent, Alberico Ahias Crespo, was convicted of these crimes in South Florida. This article will provide an overview of the background, the charges, the evidence presented at trial, statements from officials involved in the case, and the relationship between Crespo and the individual he protected.
In a significant legal development, a South Florida federal jury has found Alberico Ahias Crespo guilty of witness tampering and obstructing justice. Crespo, a 48-year-old Special Agent with the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), was convicted on three counts related to his involvement in a multi-year Oxycodone trafficking scheme and obstruction of related federal health care fraud investigations. This article will delve deeper into the specifics of the case, the evidence presented, and the statements from officials regarding the conviction.
Alberico Ahias Crespo, a Special Agent with HHS-OIG, was the defendant in this trial. He was a member of the South Florida Health Care Fraud Strike Force tasked with combating health care fraud and health care-related narcotics trafficking in Southern Florida. Crespo’s position as an agent meant he had an obligation to uphold the law and maintain the integrity of his duties.
The Criminal Activity
The criminal activity in question was centered around an illegal Oxycodone distribution scheme. From November 2016 to July 2020, patient recruiters Jorge Diaz Gutierrez, Yandre Trujillo Hernandez, and Anais Lorenzo were involved in trafficking Oxycodone. The scheme involved sending patients to selected medical clinics to obtain unnecessary Oxycodone prescriptions. The patients would then exchange these prescriptions for money, filling them at designated pharmacies before selling the pills to street dealers for a profit.
The South Florida Health Care Fraud Strike Force
Crespo was a part of the South Florida Health Care Fraud Strike Force, which was made up of interagency teams of federal investigators and prosecutors focused on combating health care fraud and health care-related narcotics trafficking in Southern Florida. This strike force aimed to protect public health while holding those engaged in fraudulent activities accountable.
The Verdict and Charges
Alberico Ahias Crespo was found guilty on multiple charges related to witness tampering and obstructing justice. He was convicted on three substantive counts of witness tampering, conspiracy to commit witness tampering, and conspiracy to obstruct justice. These charges reflect his active involvement and intent to interfere with ongoing investigations into the Oxycodone distribution scheme and health care fraud.
Evidence Presented at Trial
Throughout the trial, various items of evidence were presented to establish Crespo’s involvement in the criminal activities under investigation. His role in the Oxycodone trafficking scheme was highlighted, demonstrating his knowledge and participation. Additionally, evidence was presented to show how Crespo impeded federal health care fraud investigations, including those in which he was personally involved. The evidence showcased his abuse of power and his betrayal of the public’s trust.
Involvement in Oxycodone Trafficking Scheme
Crespo’s involvement in the Oxycodone trafficking scheme was crucial to the success of the operation. As an HHS-OIG Special Agent, he used his position to protect and advance the scheme, allowing it to continue for multiple years. By abusing his authority, Crespo became complicit in the illicit activities and actively facilitated their operation.
Impeding Federal Health Care Fraud Investigations
In addition to his role in the Oxycodone trafficking scheme, Crespo also interfered with federal health care fraud investigations. Instead of upholding his duty to investigate and report potential wrongdoing, he chose to obstruct justice by taking actions to hinder the progress of these investigations. This obstruction demonstrates a betrayal of his responsibilities as a federal agent.
Crespo’s Role as an Agent
Crespo’s position as an agent with HHS-OIG provided him with access to sensitive information and the ability to monitor ongoing investigations. However, he abused his authority by using this information for personal gain. By acting against the interests of justice, Crespo tarnished the reputation of not only himself but also the agency he worked for.
Protection of Jorge Diaz Gutierrez
One of the central figures in the Oxycodone trafficking scheme was Jorge Diaz Gutierrez. Crespo, who was a close friend and associate of Diaz Gutierrez, used his position within the South Florida Health Care Fraud Strike Force to protect Diaz Gutierrez’s operation. This included monitoring the progress of investigations involving Diaz Gutierrez and sharing sensitive law enforcement information with him. Crespo’s actions amounted to a breach of trust and a violation of his sworn duty as a federal agent.
Statements from Officials
The conviction of Alberico Ahias Crespo has drawn statements from several officials involved in the case. Markenzy Lapointe, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, emphasized that while most law enforcement officers uphold their duties with integrity, those who engage in witness tampering and obstruction of justice will be held accountable. This conviction serves as a reminder that no one is above the law and that severe consequences await those who abuse their power.
Jeffrey B. Veltri, the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Miami Field Office, expressed satisfaction with the conviction, stating that Crespo’s actions not only violated the law but also undermined the public’s trust in law enforcement. Veltri highlighted the importance of maintaining high standards in law enforcement and rooting out any wrongdoing to protect the public’s faith in the system.
Christian J. Schrank, the Deputy Inspector General for Investigations at HHS-OIG, condemned Crespo’s actions and emphasized the importance of holding individuals accountable for corruption within their ranks. Schrank expressed pride in the agents and prosecutors who worked diligently to bring Crespo to justice, emphasizing that corruption will not be tolerated within the agency.
Overview of the Criminal Activity
The criminal activity surrounding the Oxycodone trafficking scheme involved various parties and illegal actions. Patient recruiters played a key role by sending individuals to selected medical clinics to obtain unnecessary Oxycodone prescriptions. These prescriptions were then exchanged for money, and the pills were sold for a profit. The involvement of pharmacies and medical clinics facilitated the operation and allowed it to continue for years.
Role of Patient Recruiters
Patient recruiters were integral to the success of the Oxycodone trafficking scheme. Through their connections and recruitment efforts, they directed individuals to specific medical clinics to obtain prescriptions they did not need. These recruiters played a crucial role in obtaining the necessary prescriptions to fuel the illegal operation.
Illegal Oxycodone Trafficking Scheme
The illegal Oxycodone trafficking scheme involved the distribution of Oxycodone pills to street dealers. The patients who obtained the prescriptions willingly sold them to the recruiters in exchange for money. The recruiters would then fill these prescriptions at designated pharmacies, ensuring a steady supply of Oxycodone pills for illicit distribution.
Involvement of Pharmacies and Medical Clinics
Pharmacies and medical clinics were actively involved in facilitating the Oxycodone trafficking scheme. The recruiters and patients relied on these establishments to provide the prescriptions and dispense the pills. Their complicity allowed the operation to continue, as the individuals involved knew they could rely on these locations to fulfill their needs.
Exchange of Prescriptions for Money
The exchange of prescriptions for money was a key aspect of the Oxycodone trafficking scheme. Patients obtained the prescriptions from medical clinics, which they then sold to the recruiters in exchange for cash. This transaction was at the heart of the illicit operation, as it provided the necessary supply of pills for subsequent distribution.
Relationship between Crespo and Diaz Gutierrez
The relationship between Alberico Ahias Crespo and Jorge Diaz Gutierrez played a significant role in Crespo’s illegal activities. They were not only close friends but also associates involved in criminal activities. Crespo utilized his position within the South Florida Health Care Fraud Strike Force to protect Diaz Gutierrez’s Oxycodone operation and monitor investigations targeting Diaz Gutierrez.
Close Friends and Associates
Crespo and Diaz Gutierrez shared a close friendship and were connected through their criminal activities. Their personal relationship likely facilitated Crespo’s willingness to engage in corrupt actions, using his position to protect Diaz Gutierrez and hinder investigations into his illicit activities.
Protection of Diaz Gutierrez’s Operation
Crespo’s primary role in the criminal activities centered around protecting Diaz Gutierrez’s Oxycodone operation. By accessing sensitive law enforcement information, Crespo was able to stay one step ahead of investigations and provide Diaz Gutierrez with updates on the progress of health care fraud investigations. This protection further enabled the ongoing criminal activities.
Monitoring of Strike Force Investigations
As a member of the South Florida Health Care Fraud Strike Force, Crespo had insider knowledge of ongoing investigations targeting Diaz Gutierrez. Instead of using this information to aid in the investigation and prosecution of his criminal associate, Crespo monitored these investigations to protect Diaz Gutierrez’s interests. This abuse of his position compromised the integrity of the Strike Force’s efforts.
Disclosure of Sensitive Information
In his role as an HHS-OIG Special Agent, Crespo had access to sensitive information that should have been used to further investigations and ensure justice. However, he breached his duty by disclosing sensitive law enforcement information to Diaz Gutierrez. This disclosure not only compromised ongoing investigations but also provided Diaz Gutierrez with valuable insight into the activities of law enforcement agencies targeting him.
Acquittal on Conspiracy Charge
Although Crespo was convicted on several charges related to witness tampering and obstruction of justice, he was acquitted on the conspiracy to traffic Oxycodone charge. While his involvement in the Oxycodone trafficking scheme was proven, the specific charge of conspiracy to traffic Oxycodone did not result in a guilty verdict.
Not Guilty Verdict on Conspiracy to Traffic Oxycodone Charge
The jury’s not guilty verdict on the conspiracy to traffic Oxycodone charge suggests that the evidence presented did not sufficiently establish Crespo’s intent to conspire in the illegal distribution of Oxycodone. However, it is important to note that Crespo’s involvement in protecting and advancing the operation, as well as his active participation in witness tampering and obstruction of justice, were proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Maximum Sentence for Each Count of Conviction
Alberico Ahias Crespo faces serious consequences for his conviction on the charges of witness tampering and obstruction of justice. The maximum sentence for each count of conviction is 20 years’ imprisonment. Given the seriousness of these offenses and Crespo’s abuse of his position as a federal agent, a significant sentence is likely to be imposed.
Sentencing Date before U.S. District Judge Darrin P. Gayles
Alberico Ahias Crespo’s sentencing is scheduled to take place before U.S. District Judge Darrin P. Gayles on November 28, 2023. At the sentencing hearing, the court will consider various factors, including the nature and extent of Crespo’s criminal activities, the impact of his actions on the justice system, and the need for deterrence and punishment.
Commendation and Conclusion
The investigative efforts of the FBI and HHS-OIG in uncovering and prosecuting Alberico Ahias Crespo’s crimes deserve commendation. The successful conviction of Crespo sends a clear message that corruption within law enforcement will not be tolerated. It also serves as a reminder that the criminal justice system works to hold individuals accountable, regardless of their position. The prosecutors and court documents involved in this case played a vital role in ensuring justice was served. For more information, interested individuals can find related court documents and information on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida.