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Man Expected To Plead Guilty In $80 Million Conn. Prescription Drug Heist

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A Florida man charged in the theft of about $80 million in prescription drugs from a Connecticut warehouse in 2010 is likely to plead guilty, his attorney said Friday.

Jonathan J. Einhorn, attorney for Amed Villa, said negotiations are continuing on what charge Villa might plead guilty to in connection with the theft.

“At this point, a guilty plea is a good likelihood,” Einhorn said. “At this point, going to trial on this case is unlikely to happen.”

In March 2010, thieves broke into the Enfield warehouse of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co. by scaling an exterior wall and cutting a hole in the warehouse roof. They used ropes to lower themselves to the floor and disabled alarms before using a forklift to load pallets of drugs into a getaway vehicle.

The stolen drugs, which included antidepressants, antipsychotics and a chemotherapy drug used to treat lung cancer, were recovered last year from a storage facility in Florida, authorities said

Amed Villa and his brother Amaury Villa, both Cuban citizens living in Miami, were arrested last year in Florida on federal theft and conspiracy charges related to their alleged participation in the theft, called the biggest in Connecticut history.

Amed Villa, who pleaded not guilty last year, had planned to change his plea at a hearing last month, but Einhorn asked that it be rescheduled while negotiations continued to resolve warehouse theft charges in other states. He said that would get him a better sentence.

“The benefit to Mr. Villa of pleading guilty in Connecticut would be that it would also encompass other similar crimes that he’s charged with on the eastern seaboard,” Einhorn said.

Maria Elena Perez, an attorney for Amaury Villa, said he’ll plead not guilty at his arraignment Tuesday in New Haven. She said she doesn’t anticipate the case going to trial but added she wasn’t sure because she hadn’t seen all the evidence.

Amaury Villa pleaded guilty in Florida last year to possessing drugs stolen from the warehouse and was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison. Villa possessed a large quantity of pharmaceutical drugs which he knew had been stolen from the Eli Lilly warehouse in Connecticut and intended to sell them, according to court records.

Perez, who did not represent him in that case, said she’s appealing the sentence and other issues in that case. She said those charges are different than the ones he faces in Connecticut.

Amaury and Amed Villa are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit theft from an interstate shipment, which carries a maximum prison term of five years, and four counts of theft from an interstate shipment, each of which carries a prison term of up to 10 years.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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