Former Employee of Veterans Affairs Medical Center Sentenced to 57 Months in Prison for Stealing HIV Medication

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

NEWARK, N.J. – A former pharmacy procurement technician was sentenced today to 57 months in prison for stealing prescription HIV medications from the pharmacy of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) in East Orange, New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.

Lisa M. Hoffman, 50, of Orange, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Esther Salas in Newark federal court to Count 2 of an indictment charging her with theft of government property. Judge Salas imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

From October 2015 through November 2019, Hoffman was a procurement officer at the VAMC, who used her authority to order medication for the outpatient pharmacy, including ordering large quantities of HIV medication. Hoffman admitted that she stole HIV prescription medications from the VAMC pharmacy and sold it to her conspirator, Wagner Checonolasco, 35, of Lyndhurst, New Jersey, in exchange for cash. Checonolasco previously admitted to conspiring with Hoffman to steal HIV medication belonging to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The loss amount was more than $8.2 million. 

In addition to the prison term, Judge Salas sentenced Hoffman to three years of supervised release, ordered restitution of $8.29 million and forfeiture of $450,000.

Checonolasco previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to steal government property and was sentenced in February 2022 to 42 months in prison.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael Messenger in Newark, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, Northeast Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christopher F. Algieri, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole F. Mastropieri of the Health Care Fraud Unit in Newark.