Fordham Law alumnus Adam Shlahet ’02 argued and won a high-profile case involving a massive black market HIV drug scam led by pharmacist Ira Gross and his shell company, Chaparral Services, Ltd. Gross was arrested in April 2012 for illegally obtaining and distributing HIV prescription medication. Through the scheme, Medicaid and others were illegally billed $274 million, while Gross—acting as broker between the buyer and seller of the diverted medications—netted a profit of $25 million.
Shlahet was the lead prosecutor and lead counsel on the trial. He joined Fordham Law School as the director of the Brendan Moore Trial Advocacy Center on August 15, having delayed his start date (with the School’s blessing) to participate in the case.
“Fordham recognized the importance of the case, as well as the invaluable experience of conducting a complicated white-collar trial such as this and how it will ultimately benefit Fordham students,” he said.
The four-week trial concluded August 8, when the jury found both Gross and Chaparral Services guilty on all counts. Gross now faces a prison sentence of up to 25 years. The case was tried in Suffolk County Supreme Court before Hon. Richard Ambro.
“I look forward to sharing everything that I have learned from this trial with my students and training the next generation of trial lawyers,” Shlahet said. “All my success as a trial attorney I owe to my training at Fordham and the Brendan Moore Trial Advocacy Center. I am honored to continue Fordham’s tradition of preparing exceptional advocates for life in the courtroom.”
As a licensed pharmacist, Gross knew how to work around the law regarding pharmaceutical distribution. The medications were illegally obtained in a variety of ways, including buying back prescriptions from patients on the street, which may have included stolen or expired pills. To make them look new, the bottles were often cleaned with toxic chemicals in order to remove the dispensing pharmacy’s label .
“The perpetrators of this complex scheme not only cheated the state Medicaid program out of millions of dollars but preyed on some of New York’s most vulnerable patients just to make a quick buck,” Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said in a press release announcing the trial conviction.
In addition to Gross, the attorney general’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit convicted three others involved in the black market HIV scheme. Gross himself will face sentencing on September 8.