War Dogs Smuggler Efraim Diveroli Sues Abilify Makers, Blames Drug for Erratic Behavior

Efraim Diveroli, the real-life arms dealer who inspired Jonah Hill's character in War Dogs, is suing a pharmaceutical company over its anti-schizophrenia drug.
Efraim Diveroli, the real-life arms dealer who inspired Jonah Hill's character in War Dogs, is suing a pharmaceutical company over its anti-schizophrenia drug.
Miami-Dade County Corrections Department / Warner Bros. Pictures

As portrayed by Jonah Hill in the film War Dogs, Efraim Diveroli is a borderline madman, rushing into danger and blowing through millions of dollars as he tricks the U.S. government into buying old Chinese ammunition. The real-life story of the Miami Beach stoner's arms-dealing fiasco isn't that far off Hollywood's take.

But Diveroli has a new scapegoat for some of his erratic behavior. In a federal lawsuit against several pharmaceutical companies, Diveroli claims the anti-psychotic drug Abilify caused severe addictions and fueled his big spending.

After starting on Abilify, the suit claims, Diveroli "began compulsively gambling, spending, and experiencing hypersexuality."

He began taking the drug, the suit claims, around August 2008. That's about a month after the scheme at the heart of War Dogs' plot unraveled, leading federal prosecutors to charge Diveroli and his associates with 71 counts of fraud and conspiracy.

Diveroli and two friends from Miami — David Packouz and Alex Podrizki — had landed in the feds' sights by gaming Department of Defense contracting to win multimillion-dollar deals to sell ammunition to the Afghan Army. To meet their extremely low costs, the three tried to disguise illegal Chinese ammo they'd bought in Albania before shipping it to the front in Afghanistan.

But the deal fell apart, and soon Diveroli's life became even more erratic. He was busted a second time trying to sell munitions while out on bond on the gunrunning charge; in 2011, he landed a four-year prison term.

Last year, Diveroli released an autobiography — one that Packouz and Podrizki maintain is full of self-aggrandizing errors. He also filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros. in which he claims the studio stole unpublished parts of his manuscript for War Dogs. (It's not clear where that case stands today.)

Packouz scoffs at Diveroli's various legal actions. "Sounds like his new business model is filing frivolous lawsuits," he tells New Times. "First the suit against Warner Bros. and now this. I sincerely hope he finds a more productive line of work."

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Diveroli didn't return messages left with his father and a business associate. His attorney also did not respond to a message from New Times.

Diveroli was sued by Packouz and another former associate, Ralph Merrill, who each alleged he owed them millions of dollars from the Afghan operation. Merrill's case was dismissed in December, but Packouz's case is still open in Miami-Dade Civil Court.

Diveroli's Abilify lawsuit names Bristol-Myers Squibb, Otsuka Pharmaceutical, and Otsuka America.


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