(Press release originally issued by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, Office of Public Affairs for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts)

  November 20, 2002



A man from Houston, Texas was appeared today on charges that he took part in a May 24, 2001 armed robbery of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center pharmacy in Boston. He appeared before a judge today in Federal District Court on a four-count criminal complaint which charges him with robbery in which controlled substances were taken, with possession of a firearm in connection with the robbery, and with two related conspiracy counts. The robbery resulted in the theft of 3000 tablets of oxycontin, as well as varying amounts of twelve other narcotic drugs, with a total street value estimated at over $250,000.00.

U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan, Charles S. Prouty, Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bruce T. Sackman, Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Sandra Souza, Chief of Police for the V.A. - Boston Healthcare System announced the charges following the initial appearance in United States District Court in Boston.

JONATHAN NERIE, 26, of Houston, Texas, was arrested in Houston on November 4, 2002. He was transported in custody by the U.S. Marshals Service to answer the charges in Boston. According to the allegations of the complaint, over a period of several weeks, NERIE and another man, SCOTT M. CUMMINGS received detailed information about the layout of the pharmacy, the location of the narcotics storage vault within the facility, and the security provisions employed at the V.A. Medical Center from JOSHUA FRIEDMAN, a Northeastern University student who was working as a co-op student at the pharmacy. On May 22, FRIEDMAN drove NERIE and CUMMINGS to the Kittery Trading Post in Maine, where FRIEDMAN purchased two shotguns, at least one of which was used in the robbery. The complaint alleges that while NERIE and CUMMINGS carried out the robbery on the evening of May 24, 2001, FRIEDMAN waited nearby in his car, and then drove the two robbers out of Boston.

The robbers gained access to the pharmacy by posing as flower delivery men. Once inside, they brandished at least one shotgun and forced three employees into the pharmacy's narcotics vault, where the employees were tied up. Then robbers then emptied oxycontin, morphine, dilaudid, methadone, valium and other drugs into duffle bags and fled.

NERIE faces a forty-seven year prison sentence and a $750,000 fine if convicted of the crimes charged in the complaint. CUMMINGS and FRIEDMAN have previously been charged in an indictment and each awaits trial.

The investigation into the charges against NERIE, CUMMINGS and FRIEDMAN was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Veterans Affairs. A hearing to determine whether FRIEDMAN will be detained pending trial has been scheduled for Monday, November 25, 2002 before Magistrate Judge Judith Dein. The criminal case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Gregory Moffatt.

Press Contact: Samantha Martin, (617)748-3139.