116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A former pharmacist with a history for stealing drugs in California pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing “hundreds” of drugs from his Cedar Rapids CVS job for his personal use, including shorting customers’ pills from their prescriptions.
Brandon Lee Iacobo, 35, now living in La Crosse, Wis., pleaded to one count of acquiring a controlled substance by means of misrepresentation, fraud, deception and subterfuge.
According to a plea agreement, Iacobo, who was the pharmacist-in-charge or pharmacy manager from January through November of last year, admitted to taking the prescription drugs for his own use. To conceal the thefts, he falsified controlled substance “cycle counts” in the pharmacy inventory and shorted customers of the medications they needed.
A settlement agreement with the Iowa Board of Pharmacy states Iacobo, who initially received his license in 2010 from California, voluntarily surrendered his license Aug. 24 after being charged with four counts stemming from his stealing the drugs from CVS for personal use.
One of the charges alleges Iacobo was under the influence of drugs while on duty as a pharmacist, which Iacobo admitted to board officials that he took the diverted drugs while on duty and at home. He covered up the thefts by shorting filled prescriptions and in once incident, filled a patient’s prescription and picked it up and paid for it himself.
According to the settlement, the pharmacy was inspected in July of last year and had several “deficiencies,” including it being “disorganized, dirty and not a conducive environment to providing quality care”; expired medications on shelves and bottles were shelved incorrectly; quality reports were no documented or reviewed as required; and the pharmacy lacked documented training for technicians and support staff.
Troubles began at California pharmacy
The federal plea states a California administrative law judge in December 2016 determined Iacobo lacked the “continued ability to perform the duties of a licensed pharmacist, in a manner consistent with public health, safety, and welfare, even on a probationary basis,” and found his pharmacy license should be revoked.
The ruling followed a two-car accident in San Francisco, when Iacobo rear-ended another car stopped at a traffic signal, according to the plea agreement. Iacobo told police he didn’t see the other car. Police said they noticed a strong smell of mouthwash on his breath, his eyes were bloodshot and dilated and his speech was slurred.
At the hospital, Iacobo denied consuming any alcohol but then admitted to taking several controlled substances, including painkillers. A subsequent analysis of Iacobo’s blood showed the presence of hydrocodone, codeine, and other drugs that required a prescription, which he didn’t have.
Iacobo, according to the plea, was arrested for felony drunken driving causing injury.
Two days after the accident and arrest, Iacobo took an extended leave of absence from his pharmacy job but never told the pharmacy about his arrest or later conviction, the plea states. He intended to take the leave until March 16 due to “health reasons.”
Over a year later in June 2016, he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charge.
Move to Iowa
Iacobo moved to Iowa and received his pharmacy license from the board while on the leave from the California pharmacy. He first worked in Waterloo and never disclosed that pharmacy license revocation proceedings started in California.
In a written statement July 21, 2015, submitted to the California Board of Pharmacy, Iacobo falsely stated he “occasionally” took medication from his wife’s prescriptions without her knowledge and seizure medication prescribed for his dog, according to court documents.
The California board in December 2015 filed a complaint seeking revocation of Iacobo’s license, according to the plea. He then applied for a transfer to the Waterloo pharmacy while on leave, and an attorney wrote a letter to the Iowa board saying Iacobo was involved in a minor traffic accident in California and falsely stated he hadn’t formally been charged.
Iacobo was issued an Iowa license in July 2015 and Iowa required him to enroll in a program for “drug addicted pharmacists,” according to court documents. He started working at the Waterloo pharmacy. His supervisor also agreed to be his program mentor and submitted reports to the board on his progress.
His Iowa pharmacy license was renewed in 2017 and 2019 and in that paperwork he falsely stated California revoked his license because he moved out of state and couldn’t be monitored, and his attorney backed up his claim to the board, the plea states.
Iacobo then transferred to the CVS pharmacy in May 2019 and the board discharged him from the drug addiction program Sept. 6, 2019.
Iacobo faces up to four years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine and one year of supervised release following any prison term. Sentencing will be set after a presentence report is completed.
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