FORT MYERS, Fla. – United States District Judge Sheri Polster Chappell has sentenced Brandon Albanito (37, Cape Coral) to 21 years and 10 months in federal prison for possession of a controlled substance (fentanyl) with the intent to distribute it, possessing counterfeit drugs for sale, possessing equipment used to manufacture counterfeit drugs, possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, and bank fraud. The court also ordered Albanito to pay a $500,000 fine, forfeit $97,146 to the United States, and make full restitution to a victim of his bank fraud. Albanito had pleaded guilty in June 2023.
According to court documents, in 2016, agents with the Food and Drug Administration—Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA-OCI) began investigating a series of packages destined for Cape Coral and North Fort Myers residences that had been intercepted from the mail stream. The packages contained prescription drugs (in bulk powder form, like sildenafil, commonly known as “Viagra”), drug precursors (such as tryptamine, a substance used in the manufacture of hallucinogens), and controlled substances (including methamphetamine). Ultimately, the investigation revealed that each of the addresses was associated in some way with Albanito.
To determine how Albanito might be connected to the seized packages, the United States Secret Service (USSS) initiated a financial investigation into Albanito. Amongst other things, the investigation revealed an array of bank, crypto, and gambling accounts controlled by Albanito. The accounts showed suspicious history of purchases from companies based in China and frequent transfers of money, consistent with money laundering techniques employed by criminals.
Additionally, federal investigators linked together other pieces of evidence demonstrating that Albanito was running a large-scale drug manufacturing operation. For instance, in January 2021, Albanito’s former federal cellmate was stopped by the Florida Highway Patrol in Alachua County. The vehicle contained a package of cocaine as well as parts for a pill press (i.e. a machine used to compress materials into a pill form). Ultimately, federal investigators determined that the cocaine and press had been destined for Albanito’s Cape Coral home.
In January 2023, the USSS, FDA-OCI, and the Cape Coral Police Department executed a search warrant at Albanito’s home. Almost immediately upon entry, law enforcement found a large, commercial-grade pill press in the garage and hundreds of counterfeit oxycodone pills on a nearby shelf. The counterfeit pills, which appeared identical to prescription oxycodone pills, were found by the FDA to contain fentanyl. Law enforcement also found a found a five-gallon bucket containing more than 40,000 counterfeit Xanax pills (which actually contained the designer drug clonazolam), a five-gallon bucket containing approximately 20 pounds of pill binding agent, pill dies (i.e. tooling used by a pill press to create pills), and two firearms within the residence. DNA testing arranged by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives conducted on the seized firearms demonstrated that Albanito had possessed them, which he was prohibited from doing because he was a convicted felon.
Law enforcement also gathered other items and information from his residence demonstrating that, in 2021, Albanito had defrauded an online bank out of nearly $100,000, making lavish purchases with the proceeds, including a luxury vehicle and a luxury watch.
This case was investigated by the Food and Drug Administration – Office of Criminal Investigations, the United States Secret Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Cape Coral Police Department, with assistance from the United States Postal Inspection Service, Homeland Security Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Florida Highway Patrol, and the Pasco Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael V. Leeman.