CHARLESTON, W.Va. – U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin announced that two men pleaded guilty (Jan. 15) for their role in an illegal oxycodone distribution scheme. Michael Ray Fortuna, 45, of Peach Creek, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute oxycodone. Fortuna’s brother and co-defendant Ronald Fortuna, 36, also of Peach Creek, pleaded guilty in a separate hearing to conspiracy to distribute oxycodone.
Michael Fortuna admitted that from at least the summer of 2008 until August 18, 2011, he was involved in the distribution of prescription drugs – including oxycodone and alprazolam, also known as “Xanax,” in and around Logan County. Michael Fortuna further admitted that he obtained oxycodone from Florida and on some instances; he or others at his direction would travel to Florida and bring oxycodone back to Logan County. Fortuna also admitted that sources of supply located in Florida mailed shipments of oxycodone to his address in Logan County.
On April 29, 2011, investigators from the United States Postal Inspection Service executed a federal search warrant on a package addressed to Michael Fortuna. The package contained 1,789 30-milligram oxycodone tablets and bore a fictitious return address and had been shipped from Palm Bay, Fla. Investigators approached Michael Fortuna as he arrived at the Peach Creek Post Office in Logan to pick up the package. Michael Fortuna admitted that he had received a total of three such packages from Florida in April 2011. Additionally, Fortuna admitted that he mailed cash to his source of supply in Florida as payment for the packages. The defendant mailed one package that contained at least $30,000.
Ronald Fortuna admitted flying to Florida with two other individuals in late June or early July 2011 in order to obtain oxycodone. On July 3, 2011, investigators from the Multi-Agency Diversion Task Force in Palm Beach County, Fla., arrested one of Ronald Fortuna’s companions at the West Palm Beach Airport as the men were attempting to board their return flight. The companion was found to be smuggling 1,377 30-milligram oxycodone tablets. The individual cooperated with law enforcement and stated that he, Ronald Fortuna, and the other man had been sent to Florida by Michael Fortuna to pick up the pills. He identified Michael Fortuna as the head of a drug trafficking organization that obtained oxycodone from Palm Beach County, Fla. and distributed the pills in Logan County. The cooperating source admitted that he had been recruited to carry oxycodone pills on his person during a return flight to West Virginia.
Michael Fortuna admitted that he distributed a total of at least 4,955 30-milligram oxycodone tablets during the scheme.
Ronald Fortuna admitted that from at least the summer of 2009 until late summer 2011, he regularly sold oxycodone tablets from his Peach Creek residence located in Logan County. Ronald Fortuna also admitted that on or about November 10, 2010, he sold four 30-milligram oxycodone tablets to an informant working for the U.S. 119 Task Force. The transaction occurred at a Peach Creek residence in Logan County.
Ronald Fortuna further admitted that he distributed a total of approximately 2,500 30-milligram oxycodone tablets during the scheme.
Both defendants face up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine when they are sentenced on May 2, 2013 by United States District Judge Thomas E. Johnston.
This case was prosecuted as part of an ongoing effort led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia to combat the illicit sale and misuse of prescription drugs. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, joined by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, is committed to aggressively pursuing and shutting down illegal pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets, and curtailing the spread of opiate painkillers in communities across the Southern District.
The Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force, the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Logan County Sheriff’s Department conducted the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Joshua Hanks is in charge of the prosecutions.