Businessman Pleads Guilty to Operating an Illegal
OCT 01 -- (Buffalo, NY) JOHN P. GILBRIDE, the Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Field Division and Terrance P. Flynn, United States Attorney for the Western District of New York announced that THUGGINI SEETHAPATHY, 70, of Elmira, New York, plead guilty to a 2 count Information before United States Chief Judge Richard J. Arcara. The first count of the Information was conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846. This is a felony charge carrying a term of imprisonment of up to 3 years and a fine of $250,000 or both. The second count of the Information alleged forfeiture requiring SEETHAPATHY to forfeit approximately $950,000.00 including a 2007 Mercedes Benz automobile.
DEA Special Agent in Charge John P. Gilbride stated, "This investigation led law enforcement on a criminal path that started in Buffalo, New York through New Delhi, India and finally into the homes of thousands of Americans. The sale and abuse of pharmaceutical drugs has increased dramatically over the past three years. This investigation demonstrates the commitment of law enforcement to increase the knowledge of these illegal sales and the danger of prescription drug abuse."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Kaufman, who is handling the case, stated that SEETHAPATHY operated internet pharmacy businesses known as Upstate Discounted Drugs and Chandra Importers. The businesses offered Schedule IV controlled substances on the websites of upstatedrugs.com and abcmedics.com to individuals throughout the United States and the world without the required written prescriptions. Some of the drugs offered and eventually sold were alprazolam (a/k/a Xanax), dextropropoxyphene (a/k/a/ Darvocet), and diazepam (a/k/a Valium) along with unapproved generic Rx legend drugs including Viagra.
Between or around April of 2004 to August of 2007, SEETHAPATHY dispensed approximately 440,000 Schedule IV controlled substance pills/tablets to individuals who had placed orders over the internet with his companies. SEETHAPATHY would fill these orders by obtaining the drugs from an individual in India who would then ship the narcotics to the customer directly. India Narcotics Control Bureau authorities have arrested D. RAMAKRISHNAN based on intelligence information received from the DEA New Delhi Country Office. Suspected drug proceeds were also seized by the India NCB from bank accounts based on financial Intelligence from DEA, New Delhi CO.
“By accepting customer orders without requiring written prescriptions SEETHAPATHY facilitated the illegal sale of pharmaceuticals over the Internet.” said United States Attorney Terrance P. Flynn. “Those who participate in or operate such schemes can expect to be prosecuted.”
U.S. Attorney Flynn also stated, “Today’s announcement reflects our ongoing commitment to vigorously enforce federal laws against the distribution of both illegal drugs and prescription drugs diverted from their legitimate purposes. Citizens of the United States deserve our best efforts to eliminate, or at least minimize, the destructive social and economic consequences of drug abuse in their communities. We intend to keep working hard until that goal is achieved across this country.”
“Never has the expression ‘buyer beware’ had a greater ring of truth,” said Terry L. Vermillion, Director for the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA/OCI).
“The illegal sale of pharmaceuticals over the Internet poses a serious threat to Americans who mistakenly assume these substances are safe. Today's guilty plea was made by an experienced businessman who knew full well the risks inherent in what he was doing. FDA is committed to seeing that those who exploit the Internet for profit and put the public in harm’s way are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
The United States Attorney's Office along with the DEA and FDA's contribution in this case, as well as in many others, involved providing the financial expertise to follow the money trail and seizing the profits of illegal activities,” said United States Attorney Flynn. “Working together and utilizing the expertise offered by our partner investigative agencies makes law enforcement more effective in ending corruptive activity such as what occurred in this case.”
This investigation was conducted by DEA Special Agents and Diversion Investigators of the Drug Enforcement Administration Diversion Unit from the Albany Regional Office Buffalo Residence Office and DEA New Delhi Country Office along with Special Agents of the Buffalo FDA-OCI with the assistance of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Elmira office of the FBI, the Elmira Police Department, and the Chemung County Sheriff’s Office.