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Second Italian man extradited to face federal pill mill charges in TN

Luigi Palma was brought back Friday to the United States. He and co-defendant Luca Sartini face trial in federal court in Knoxville.

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — An Italian man accused of co-owning an East Tennessee pill mill operation that made millions of dollars is now in the United States, ready to face prosecution, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday.

Luigi Palma, 54, was extradited from Lamezia Terme, Calabria, to Knoxville on Friday, according to Monday's announcement. He'd been resisting extradition for two years.

Palma, who has dual U.S. and Italian citizenship, appeared Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Debra Poplin. He's being held in the Blount County Jail, logs show.

He'll join co-defendant Luca Sartini in facing trial in U.S. District Court in Knoxville. Authorities brought Sartini back to the United States earlier this year.

Co-defendant Sylvia Hofstetter, the most public face of the drug conspiracy, was convicted at trial in February of serving as the Tennessee pill mill supervisor. Hofstetter, who moved to Knox County to set up shop in the early 2010s, faces more than 30 years in federal prison.

The government alleges Palma and Sartini co-owned pain clinics in South Florida and the Knoxville area.

The charges against Palma and Sartini include racketeering.

Credit: KCSO
Luca Sartini, of Italy, accused of backing an East TN pill mill scheme

Palma and Sartini have a March 30 trial date before U.S. District Judge Thomas Varlan.

"The United States is grateful to the Italian authorities for their robust cooperation in this matter," the Justice Department statement reads.