A New York City pharmacist under investigation by federal drug authorities allegedly took "sinister action" to disrupt the probe: he had a greeting card filled with cocaine sent to the home of the lead investigator, prosecutors charged Friday.
Dimitrios Lymberatos, 34, was charged with one count each of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice for seeking to “interfere with the investigation through intimidation,” said acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss.
“Lymberatos’s misguided message was received loud and clear – and he now faces the possibility of a lengthy prison term for his potentially harmful attempt to obstruct law enforcement,” Strauss said.
Lymberatos, who operates a pharmacy in Queens, surrendered to authorities Friday morning. He faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted on both counts.
“I’m still in shock right now,” said a person who answered the phone at Lymberatos’s store, Village Pharmacy. “We’re just at a loss for words.”
Prosecutors say Lymberatos came to the attention of the Drug Enforcement Administration in November 2019 after his pharmacy submitted a registration application to dispense controlled substances.
The application included inaccurate information about the supervising pharmacist, setting off an investigation that delayed the pharmacy’s ability to receive authorization to dispense medications such as Vicodin or Adderall.
By April, the probe was causing alarm among pharmacy staffers, according to the criminal complaint.
Text messages found on Lymberatos’ cellphone included an exchange with the unidentified individual who submitted the application on behalf of Lymeratos’ pharmacy.
“I’m scared and I’m also not in a position to lie” to “you but My name is on the line here if this investigation goes into any of that ordering,” read the April 5 message from Lymberatos’s employee, the complaint says.
The message went on to warn Lymberato about firing the employee and suggested they would have “zero problem” divulging “all the non kosher stuff” – an apparent reference to illegal activities.
As the investigation stretched on into May and the pharmacy’s business was likely suffering financially as a result of its inability to dispense controlled drugs, Lymberatos launched his scheme, the complaint says.
He hired a private investigator to run a background check on the DEA investigator, which resulted in Lymberatos learning the agent’s home address, the complaint says.
Two weeks later, around May 26, a greeting card filled with several small packets of white powder was sent from California to the investigator’s home in the New York City area, the complaint says.
Lymberatos tracked the progress of the greeting card more than two dozen times until it arrived at the investigator’s home, the complaint says.
Upon receiving the card and finding the substance inside, the investigator notified law enforcement and was taken to the hospital for toxicology screening, authorities said.
The white powder caused the investigator “significant alarm about having potentially been exposed to a dangerous substance,” the complaint says.
Subsequent DEA laboratory tests determined the white powder to be cocaine, authorities said.
Lymberatos is accused of having the cocaine sent to make the investigator “fear for her physical safety, and to create trouble for the Investigator by causing her to come into possession of an illegal controlled substance.”
“One of our own diversion investigators was allegedly targeted simply for doing their job,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Raymond Donovan, “and as such, Mr. Lymberatos’s alleged actions as a pharmacist and licensed professional were completely unconscionable.”
Lymberatos was expected to be presented before a federal judge later Friday. His attorney could not be immediately reached.