Fraudsters admit they bought nursing home drugs as part of $60 million scheme, feds announce

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A husband and wife have pleaded guilty to masterminding a sprawling drug diversion scheme that involved reselling nursing home medications, according to federal and state authorities.

Cumberland Distribution Inc. — owned by 52-year-old Charles Jeffrey Edwards and his wife, 43-year-old Brenda Elise Edwards — was licensed as a prescription drug wholesaler by the state of Tennessee, Department of Justice documents state. The husband and wife admitted on May 7 that Cumberland resold a high volume of illegally obtained drugs, accruing nearly $14 million in profits from $58 million worth of sales between 2006 and 2009.

Some of these medications came from nursing homes, The Tennessean reported Thursday. Antipsychotics and antidepressives — as well as medications to treat acid reflux, blood pressure and diabetes — were some of the primary types of drugs being passed off as new. Their distribution put consumers at risk of taking tainted or expired medications, the newspaper noted.

To carry out the scheme, the couple relied on a large network of “diverters” who obtained the drugs, the DOJ stated. They also created businesses to make it appear that they were getting the medications through legal means.

Brenda Edwards pleaded guilty to conspiracy and faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to the United States Attorney of the Middle District of Tennessee. Charles Edwards pleaded guilty to mail fraud and money laundering, for which he could face 30 years in prison and $500,000 in fines. Their sentencing is scheduled for November 24.

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