KNOXVILLE, Tenn. On June 26, the United States successfully completed the extradition process of Luca Sartini, 60, from Italy, with the United States Marshals Service effectuating the transportation of Sartini from Rome to Knoxville. Sartini is a co-defendant of Sylvia Hofstetter. Hofstetter and three medical providers were convicted of numerous charges related to “pill mill” operations in Florida and Tennessee following a four-month trial earlier this year. Extradition procedures are continuing in Italy for the last co-defendant in the case, Luigi “Jimmy” Palma.
Sartini contested his extradition from Italy for approximately two years. The charges against Sartini are varied, and reflect his alleged role in owning and operating pain clinics in South Florida and the Knoxville area over the course of several years. Included in the charges are a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) conspiracy and a conspiracy to distribute oxycodone, oxymorphone, and morphine outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.
Sartini appeared before the Honorable Debra C. Poplin, U. S. Magistrate Judge, on June 26, 2020, and plead not guilty to all charges. Sartini waived his immediate right to a detention hearing and remains in custody of the United States Marshal. The trial has been set for September 1, 2020, before the Honorable Thomas A. Varlan, U. S. District Judge. If convicted, Sartini faces an imprisonment of up to 20 years on each of the charges and fines up to $1,000,000.
Members of the public are reminded that Sartini is presumed innocent until his guilt has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
This sweeping prosecution, which has resulted in approximately 140 convictions so far, is the result of an investigation by the U. S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee, the Organized Crime and Gang Section, U.S. Department of Justice, and the FBI High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), comprised of investigators assigned to the task force by the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office, Knoxville Police Department, Blount County Sheriff’s Office, Roane County Sheriff’s Office, Harriman Police Department, and the Clinton Police Department. Other agencies provided invaluable assistance, including the Rome attaché of the Office of International Affairs, the U.S. Department of Justice, FBI’s liaison in Rome, FBI’s Miami Field Office, the Hollywood, Florida, Police Department, the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Tennessee Department of Health, and the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Knoxville Diversion Group. The Rome attaché and FBI’s liaison in Rome were particularly instrumental in effectuating Sartini’s extradition, as were Italian law enforcement agencies and prosecutors. The United States is particularly appreciative of their assistance.
The extradition of Sartini was made possible by provisions of a treaty between the United States and Italy. The United States is grateful to the Italian government for its robust cooperation in this matter.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy L. Stone, and Deputy Chief Attorney Kelly Pearson and Trial Attorney Damare Theriot, Organized Crime and Gang Section, U.S. Department of Justice, represent the United States in the prosecution of this case.