Distributor of Pseudoephedrine Tablets Pleads
NOV 28 -- YOON CHOI, the president of HURRICANE CORPORATION, a Flushing, New York, distributor of health and beauty aids, pleaded guilty today to making a false statement to employees of the Drug Enforcement Administration who were investigating the distribution of pseudoephedrine tablets. The proceeding was held before United States Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak at the U.S. Courthouse in Brooklyn, New York.
The guilty plea was announced by Roslynn R. Mauskopf, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and John P. Gilbride, Special Agent-in-Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, New York Field Division. Pseudoephedrine tablets have been subject to regulation as a listed chemical under the Controlled Substances Act since October 1997. Pseudoephedrine tablets are legitimately used in small quantities as a cold medication. In larger quantities, they are used in the illicit manufacture of methamphetamine. The government’s investigation revealed that between February 2003 and January 2005, HURRICANE sold over 1.7 million pseudoephedrine tablets to a convenience store located in the state of Washington, well in excess of the amount that the store would be expected to sell to customers having a legitimate need for the tablets.
“Whether sent to a local New York address, or sent to Seattle, Washington, the fraudulent trafficking of pseudoephedrine, or any listed substance, will not be tolerated by DEA,” said Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Division Gilbride. “DEA will continue to ensure that manufacturers and distributors follow the law in order to keep our communities safe.”
In December 2004, DEA investigators questioned CHOI about HURRICANE’s sales of the pseudoephedrine tablets. CHOI provided the investigators with 677 invoices, which purported to show sales of pseudoephedrine tablets to 20 customers in New York City, each of whom purportedly received relatively small amounts of tablets. None of the invoices reflected sales to the convenience store. In fact, CHOI fabricated each of these invoices in an attempt to conceal from DEA the sales to the convenience store.
As part of the agreement to plead guilty to the criminal charge, CHOI and HURRICANE entered into a Consent Judgment to settle civil claims brought against them arising from their sales of the pseudoephedrine tablets. Under the Consent Judgment, the defendants agreed to pay a civil penalty of $200,000 and never again distribute pseudoephedrine, or any other listed chemical. The Consent Judgment is subject to approval by Chief Judge Edward R. Korman of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
“Manufacturers and distributors of listed substances must provide accurate information to federal agents and investigators to ensure that the chemicals are not diverted for illegal use,” stated United States Attorney Mauskopf. “We are committed to enforcing rigorously the laws and regulations governing the sale of these chemicals.”
When sentenced, CHOI faces a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.
The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Charles P. Kelly and Elliot M. Schachner.