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Pharmaceutical worker guilty in drug theft

Defendant Subhas Gengiah is shown in this photo

Defendant Subhas Gengiah is shown in this photo introduced as evidence at his trial at U.S. District Court in Central Islip. (June 21, 2012) Credit: Handout

A worker at a Hauppauge pharmaceutical company has been convicted of illegal distribution of hydrocodone after federal prosecutors said he stole four pounds of the painkiller from the business -- enough to make hundreds of thousands of tablets of the narcotic, federal officials said.

Subhas Gengiah, 49, of Queens, walked out of the Amneal Pharmaceuticals plant with the pure hydrocodone bit by bit concealed in rubber work gloves over a six-month period in 2011, according to testimony by a Drug Enforcement Administration agent at his trial in federal District Court in Brooklyn.

Gengiah, who worked as a chemical mixer at the company, was convicted of one count of illegal distribution of hydrocodone Wednesday after a four-day trial, according to officials. He was acquitted of three other distribution counts. Gengiah confessed to stealing the drug, a DEA agent testified at the trial.

Hydrocodone from barrels of the pure painkiller were mixed at the plant with other compounds to make various medicines.

Using a work glove, Gengiah said, he would "put his hand in the barrel, turn the glove inside out, put the glove in his pocket," according to the agent. "And then he would put that glove in his knapsack and carry that out," the agent said

In addition, the agent said, Gengiah told him "when they were throwing away [hydrocodone] barrels, there would be residue on the bottom of the barrels and he would take that residue and put that in his knapsack also."

Gengiah did not have the ability to turn the hydrocodone into tablets. Eastern District federal prosecutor Brendan King said in summing up the government's case that before Gengiah was arrested, he sold more than two pounds of the hydrocodone to a DEA informant for $400 an ounce, or for a total of roughly $15,000.

Gengiah's defense attorney, Michelle Gerlent, declined to comment, as did prosecutor King.

A spokesman for the company could not be reached.

Gengiah, a Guyanese national, faces up to 20 years in prison and deportation when he is sentenced.

He is currently confined to his home and monitored by an electronic bracelet, officials said.

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