CAPE CORAL, Fla.- A Cape Coral couple, who owned the former St. Jude's Pharmacy, is facing charges after allegedly conspiring to distribute controlled substances and hiding the illegal proceeds from 2009 to 2012.
Jorge Otano, 51, is charged with conspiracy to distribute oxycodone, a controlled substance, outside the usual course of professional practice and for other than legitimate medical purposes.
Both Jorge and 41-year-old Martha Otano were both charged with conspiring to evade the reporting requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act, as part of a pattern of illegal activity involving more than $100,000 in a 12-month period. They are each also charged with three substantive counts of structuring transactions to evade the reporting requirements.
If convicted of conspiring to distribute a controlled substance, Jorge Otano faces a maximum penalty of twenty years in federal prison. If convicted of conspiring to structure deposits to evade reporting requirements, they each face a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. Each structuring transaction to evade reporting requirements charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.
Prosecutors will try to seize computer equipment used to facilitate the crime, a house in Cape Coral, and two vehicles, which are alleged to be traceable to proceeds of the offense.
In addition, the United States is seeking a money judgment in the amount of $430,000, as additional proceeds of the crimes charged in the indictment.
According to the indictment, from approximately August 2009 until November 15, 2012, Jorge Otano conspired with others to possess with intent to distribute, and distribute oxycodone outside the usual course of professional practice and for other than legitimate medical purposes. In addition, Jorge and Martha Otano made cash deposits, including deposits of illegal proceeds, into domestic financial institutions in amounts of $10,000 or less in order to avoid triggering bank reporting requirements. The Otanos allegedly made multiple deposits below the reporting requirement at multiple banks on the same day and at the same branch on successive days. The indictment alleges that they made in excess of $100,000 in structured cash deposits in one year.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
A nearby business owner says he knew there was something suspicious going on at the pharmacy. "They'd jump in and out of the cars, money exchanging, I knew something fishy was going on and one day I came to work and the DEA stormed the place, " said William Beltz, who works at Fort Myers Gold Exchange. "I think it's pretty messed up, I really don't need that here whatsoever, it's not good for business. I'm glad that he's gone to be honest."