Chief Technology Officer Of Internet Pharmacy Pleads Guilty To Illegal Distribution Of Weight Loss Drugs Over The Internet
OCT 5 -- (San Jose, CA) – Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Javier F. Peña and United States Attorney Scott N. Schools announced that on Monday, October 1, 2007, Denis Leborgne, 43, of Wilmington, North Carolina pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Ronald M. Whyte to conspiring to illegally distribute controlled substances, including phentermine, which is a Schedule IV controlled substance, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. Leborgne admitted that between May 2005 and December 2005 he conspired with Andrew Thomas Russo and David John, both indicted co-conspirators, to establish and operate United Care Pharmacy (“UCP”) in Wilmington, North Carolina.
According to court documents, UCP fulfilled orders for Internet pharmaceutical sellers and operated its own program that contracted with doctors to provide sham medical prescriptions for individuals seeking to illegally obtain certain types of controlled substances without proper medical supervision. UCP fulfilled these illegal pharmaceutical orders and received “prescriptions” that were approved by physicians oftentimes located thousands of miles away from the customer and relying solely on an on-line questionnaire, without verifying the information on the questionnaire other than the ability to pay for the pharmaceuticals. UCP then downloaded these “prescriptions,” packaged the pharmaceuticals, and sent them to customers across the United States, including to the Bay Area. In addition to receiving these prescriptions that were issued without the physician conducting a good-faith, face to face exam of the customer, the pharmacist at UCP did not verify the authenticity or appropriateness of the “prescriptions” before allowing the drugs to be shipped.
In addition to shipping the drugs without proper prescriptions, Leborgne also admitted that as part of this conspiracy, UCP and its participants set up off-shore accounts to receive payments for fulfilling these drug orders.
The maximum statutory penalty for the conspiracy count in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846 is 3 years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000 or twice the value of money obtained from the violation, 1 year of supervised release, and a $100 mandatory special assessment. U.S. District Judge Whyte set the sentencing for February 25, 2008 at 9 a.m. in San Jose, California. Any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Shashi Kewalramani is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Lead Legal Assistant Cynthia Daniel. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration in San Francisco.