The Department of Justice building is seen in Washington. File Photo by Roger L. Wollenberg/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 26 (UPI) -- A Colorado man pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud as part of a scheme to falsify clinical trials data.
Duniel Tejada, 35, of Canon City, Colorado, admitted he was part of the scheme to falsify medical records for trials related to opioid dependency, irritable bowel syndrome and diabetic neuropathy, while working as a project manager and study coordinator for Tellus Clinical Research, a medical clinic in Miami, the Department of Justice said in a statement.
In particular, as part of his plea agreement before U.S. District Judge Robert Scola Jr. of the Southern District of Florida, Tejada admitted he "falsified data to make it appear as though subjects were participating in the trials when, in truth, they were not."
"The defendant's conduct put profits before public health," acting Assistant Attorney Brian Boynton of the Justice Department's Civil Division said in the statement. "The Justice Department will continue to work with its partners at the Food and Drug Administration to investigate and prosecute anyone who engages in this conduct."
U.S. Attorney Juan Antonio Gonzalez added that the action violated the "public's trust."
"The public relies on the accuracy and honesty of clinical trial data," Gonzalez said. "Falsifying clinical data not only violates the public's trust, it also endangers the safety of consumers. Those who unlawfully profit by compromising the public's health in this way commit serious crimes and will be prosecuted."
Tejada could face up to 20 years in prison, according to the DOJ statement. A sentencing hearing is slated for Jan. 20.
"We will continue to monitor, investigate and bring to justice those whose actions may subvert the FDA approval process and endanger the public health," Assistant Commissioner for FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations Catherine Hermsen said in the statement.