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Former city pharmacy owner sentenced to 12 years

By Staff | Oct 14, 2015

A former Cape Coral business owner was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison last week.

On Oct. 5, U.S. District Judge Sheri Polster Chappell sentenced Jorge Otano, 54, of the Cape. He owned and operated St. Jude’s Pharmacy from August 2009 to November 2012 with his wife, Martha.

Attorney Allen Kaufman represented Otano in the case.

“The judge did what she thought was fair,” he said of the sentencing on Tuesday.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys David G. Lazarus and Yolande G. Viacava prosecuted the case.

In February, Otano pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute oxycodone, and distributing the controlled substance outside the usual course or professional practice and for other than legitimate medical purposes, conspiracy to commit structuring, evading a currency-transaction reporting requirement, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and money laundering.

According to official documents, St. Jude’s Pharmacy made a significant profit from August 2009 to November 2012 by filling fraudulent prescriptions for oxycodone and charging $4 to $12 per pill.

From April 2011 to November 2012, the Otanos made structured cash deposits of the proceeds of the illegal narcotics sales into a domestic financial institution. The couple knew that the money obtained from the sale of oxycodone through the pharmacy was the proceeds of unlawful narcotics distribution.

They purchased two Cape residences, a 2012 Chevrolet truck and 2013 Mercedes Benz vehicle.

On Monday, Chappell imposed a fine of $15,000 on Otano.

He was ordered to forfeit the two vehicles involved in the money laundering conspiracy.

The court also entered a money judgement of nearly $1.31 million against the couple, representing the amount of funds involved in a conspiracy to evade transaction reporting requirements. As partial satisfaction, Otano must forfeit about $870,377 that was seized during the investigation by authorities.

Martha Otano previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to evade reporting requirements and substantive acts of evading reporting requirements. In July, she was sentenced to more than three years in prison.

“Pharmacy owners, like Jorge Otano, who illegally distribute powerful prescription drugs are a danger to society,” Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Jesus Casas, of the Fort Myers division, said in an email.

“This sentence should send a message that we will not tolerate this activity in our community,” he added. “I applaud the efforts of our local and federal partners, including the Secret Service, DEA, the Cape Coral Police Department and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, for removing this drug dealer.”