Vallejo couple charged in alleged elder care facility pill mill

VALLEJO, Calif. (KGO) -- Federal authorities arrested Vallejo couple Henry Benson and his wife Roselle Cipriano. They're charged with running a pill manufacturing operation at an elderly care facility.

Drug Enforcement Administration Agents were the unlikely visitors to Genesis Care Home for the elderly in Vallejo Thursday.

"This is something that just shocked the heck out of all of us," said an employee who did not want to be identified.



The Assisted Living Facility raid on the 1100 block of Lewis Avenue was the culmination of an investigation beginning in 2017 for a counterfeit pill making operation.

According to the criminal complaint, the facility's owner, Cipriano, and her husband, Benson, both California state licensed elder care providers, were peddling counterfeit Ecstasy pills bearing Kool-Aid and Tesla logos as well as President Trump's Face and shapes like Minions. The DEA says the pills actually contained methamphetamine, not MDMA.



The employee who spoke with us says she runs the Vallejo Assisted Living Facility.

"It wasn't here, it was on the other side and the building is separated," she explained. "And so this is where it stops," she said while showing ABC7 News from the outside.

She invited us inside and showed us where five residents currently reside along with a door covered by a curtain and movable shelves separating the assisted living facility from the alleged pill mill. Cipriano and Benson were living on the other side of the door.



According to the criminal complaint, the couple was "involved in the distribution of similar tablets as far back as 2008" and one of their alleged sellers would often meet Benson at the assisted living facility to obtain the pills.

Agents seized 31 pounds of tablets containing suspected methamphetamine, 17 pounds of suspected methamphetamine, a shotgun and a pill press.

"If we had any inclination we would have not allowed it, we would have told the authorities, we would have stopped it," the employee said.

The Department of Social Services is now investigating. It last inspected the facility in August of 2018.

While the DEA calls Cipriano the owner, according to DSS, Cipriano's parents are listed as the licensees. Cipriano is listed as the licensee of a second assisted living facility in Fairfield.

Barbara Broome says she's been delivering prescription medications to the elderly residents at the Vallejo location for 10 years.



"I would have suggested a family member to come here," said Broome.

Agents say the couple would often receive pill manufacturing related deliveries to the nearby Glen Cove mailbox center.

Cipriano and Benson are being detained. Their preliminary hearing is scheduled for Feb. 21.

Benson's mother is also mentioned in this criminal complaint as being involved. There isn't an arrest warrant for her, but the DEA says the case is ongoing.
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