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A New York man has pleaded guilty to fraudulently obtaining specialty baby formula that he then sold on the black market.

From March 2019 through October 2022, Vladislav Kotlyar, 43, submitted forged medical documents and prescriptions for specialty baby formula.

Kotlyar and others also filed for $1.9 million in reimbursement from insurance providers. This coincided with a national shortage of baby formula resulting from an early 2022 Cronobacter sakazakii outbreak that temporarily shuttered a Michigan baby formula plant.

Kotlyar, who lived on Staten Island, obtained the original documents and prescriptions for infants who required a distinct formula for medical reasons. He then forged new documents and prescriptions and ordered additional baby formula.

“I obtained baby formula fraudulently from the insurance companies using the mail, through scripts that were forged … just the signature was forged by myself,” Kotlyar told Judge William Kuntz, according to the New York Daily News.

Kotlyar also made up issues with the shipments, such as damage to the shipment or the formula being incorrect, so the formula providers would send him more, which he then sold. 

Kotlyar forfeited around $1 million as part of his plea agreement to mail-fraud charges and will pay over $738,000 in restitution. On the count of mail fraud, Kotlyar faces up to 20 years in prison.

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