New York - The owner of the Havana House cigar store in downtown Middletown pleaded guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court to mailing more than $5,000 worth of stolen medical supplies across state lines.
Francisco Velez Jr., 32, of Lybolt Road in the Town of Wallkill, admitted his crime yesterday before U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska. Velez was arrested on Nov. 21 after an investigation by Middletown police and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They suspected him of stealing $3.5 million worth of supplies, such as surgical staples, while he worked as an operating-room technician at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx. The hospital fired him after his arrest.
Court papers indicate that Velez struck a plea-bargain with federal prosecutors, but details of the deal weren’t immediately available. The crime carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, but federal sentencing guidelines are no longer mandatory, and the final authority rests with the judge.