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Miami man pleads guilty to warehouse thefts

September 9, 2013
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A Miami man who helped carry out the theft of about $90 million in prescription drugs from a warehouse in Connecticut pleaded guilty Monday to similar thefts in Florida, Kentucky and Virginia.

Amed Villa, who entered the guilty pleas in federal court in New Haven, was charged with stealing more than $20 million worth of cigarettes, cellphones, inhalers and multimedia tablets from warehouses in the three states.

He is to be sentenced Dec. 4, and faces a maximum prison term of 60 years.

Villa, a Cuban citizen, pleaded guilty in July to theft and conspiracy charges stemming from his participation in the theft at pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Co. operate in Enfield, Conn. That month he also pleaded guilty to stealing about $8 million in cigarettes from an Illinois warehouse in 2010.

The Lilly heist is believed to be the largest theft in state history.

Thieves broke into the pharmaceutical company's Enfield warehouse in 2010 by scaling an exterior wall and cutting a hole in the roof. They lowered 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.

At the hearing Monday, Villa, 49, also admitted a role in the August 2009 theft of more than $13.3 million in pharmaceuticals from the GlaxoSmithKline warehouse in Colonial Heights, Va., the January 2011 theft of $8 million in cellular telephones and multimedia tablets from a Quality One Wireless warehouse in Orlando, Fla., and the March 2011 theft of more than $1.5 million in cigarettes from a warehouse in Leitchfield, Ky.

Villa's DNA was found on items discarded during the thefts in Connecticut, Illinois, Florida and Virginia, federal prosecutors say.

Villa and his brother Amaury Villa, also a Cuban citizen who had been living in Miami, were arrested last year in Florida on theft and conspiracy charges alleging they participated in the Connecticut theft.

Amaury Villa has pleaded not guilty in Connecticut to the Lilly heist. He pleaded guilty in Florida last year to possessing drugs stolen from the warehouse and was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison. His attorney, Maria Elena Perez, who did not represent him in the Florida case, has said she's appealing the sentence and other issues in that case.

Lilly, whose products include Cymbalta and Cialis, is based in Indianapolis.

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