Jared Wheat, CEO of Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, and co-defendant Sergio Oliveira, a sales associate, were sentenced to 50 months and 20 months, respectively, after pleading guilty to an internet pharmacy conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, and to introduce and deliver new and adulterated prescription drugs into interstate commerce under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Wheat was also fined $50,000 and ordered to forfeit $3 million in proceeds. While the plea bargain recommended that Wheat serve 37 months, a district judge determined that the sentence was not severe enough for the conduct alleged.
The indictment alleged that Jared Wheat, Hi Tech Pharmaceuticals (d/b/a Planet Pharmacy), and co-defendants Stephen D. Smith, Tomasz Holda, Sergio Oliveira, David Brady, David Johnson, David Watkins, Brad Watkins, Steven Blinder, Michele Young, and Guillermo Pech conspired to commit wire fraud, mail fraud, and to introduce and deliver into interstate commerce both unapproved new and adulterated drugs with the intent to defraud and mislead in violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
Specifically, the indictment alleged that Hi-Tech operated the websites canadiangenerics.com, genericviagra.bz, genericpharmacy.bz, pharmacy.bz, targetdata.bz and planetpharmacy.bz, which offered both controlled and non-controlled substances without a prescription. The drugs included Anadrol, Xanax, Viagra, Lipitor, Celebrex, Cialis, Vioxx, Zoloft, Ambien, and Valium. According to the indictment, the websites “falsely stated that these drugs would be imported from Canada” and that they would be manufactured “using good manufacturing practices,” when, in reality, the drugs were manufactured and imported from Belize. Additionally, the websites falsely stated that health questionnaires would be reviewed by U.S. licensed doctors.
The indictment, like others I have discussed before, curiously states that the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act requires “valid” prescriptions in order to escape misbranding prosecutions. However, the act does not use the word “valid.” The fact that it is conspicuously absent in this provision yet present elsewhere in the Act in a pharmacy compounding provision as well as in the Controlled Substances Act is certainly important to note from a criminal defense attorney’s perspective. In this case, however, the issue appears to be irrelevant. The indictment alleges that no prescriptions, valid or not, were issued. Moreover, the conspiracy charge in which Wheat pled guilty is based on adulterated and new drugs rather than misbranding and prescription issues.
The content on this post does not constitute legal advice and is for informational purposes only. You should not act upon the information presented on this website without seeking the advice of legal counsel. Should you wish to speak to an experienced criminal defense lawyer knowledgeable in prescription, drug and internet pharmacy law, including Controlled Substances Act and Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act violations, please feel free to contact me directly.
Category: Internet Pharmacy Law