By Jonathan Stempel
(Reuters) - A Cuban immigrant who pleaded guilty to having a role in the theft of more than $50 million of pharmaceuticals from an Eli Lilly and Co warehouse in northern Connecticut was sentenced on Wednesday to 6-1/4 years in prison.
Yosmany Nunez, 42, of Southwest Ranches, Florida, is the first defendant to be sentenced among five who pleaded guilty over the March 13, 2010 heist in Enfield, Connecticut, which borders Massachusetts, federal prosecutors said.
Nunez, a Cuban citizen known as "El Gato," was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton in New Haven, Connecticut.
The defendant had been detained since his arrest last April 17. He pleaded guilty on Nov. 5 to one count of transporting stolen property.
Lawyers for Nunez did not immediately respond to requests for comment. They had asked for leniency, telling the judge last month that Nunez is more likely to be deported now that the United States has taken steps to normalize relations with Cuba.
Federal prosecutors said the theft involved breaking into the Lilly warehouse through the roof, and then loading thousands of boxes of drugs onto a waiting tractor trailer that was later driven to Florida and unloaded in the Miami area.
Authorities discovered some of the stolen drugs in October 2011, and announced several arrests the following May.
Among the pharmaceuticals stolen were the schizophrenia drug Zyprexa, the anti-depressants Cymbalta and Prozac, and the cancer treatment Gemzar.
The case is U.S. v. Nunez, U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut, No. 12-cr-00040.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Andrew Hay)