Man charged in $80M drug heist pleads not guilty

A Florida man pleaded not guilty to charges that he was involved in the theft of about $80 million in prescription drugs from a Connecticut warehouse in 2010.

Amed Villa entered his plea Thursday in U.S. District Court in New Haven, said his attorney, Jonathan J. Einhorn, and Tom Carson, spokesman for the U.S. attorney.

In March 2010, thieves broke into the Enfield warehouse of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co. by scaling an exterior wall and cutting a hole in the warehouse roof. They used ropes to lower themselves to the floor and disabled alarms before using a forklift to load pallets of drugs into a getaway vehicle.

Villa, 46, and his 37-year-old brother, Amaury, both citizens of Cuba living in Miami, were arrested last month in Florida on federal theft and conspiracy charges related to their alleged participation in the theft, called the biggest in Connecticut history.

"We look forward to seeing the government's evidence and look forward to a trial," Einhorn said. "At this point, that's our plan. We're going to focus on forcing the government to prove these serious charges."

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.

Amed Villa touched a water bottle that had been stored within the warehouse and left the bottle inside the warehouse when he fled, prosecutors said.

Amaury and Amed Villa are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit theft from an interstate shipment, which carries a maximum prison term of five years, and four counts of theft from an interstate shipment, each of which carries a prison term of up to 10 years.

Frank Rubino, attorney for Amaury Villa, declined to comment on the Connecticut charges. He said his client pleaded not guilty to charges in Florida related to the prescription drugs stolen from the Connecticut warehouse.