Animal & Veterinary
Sentencing in Livestock Prescription Drug Fraud Case
January 19, 2005
On Monday, December 27, 2004, Becky Rus of Rock Valley, Iowa and Livestock Concepts, Inc., the corporation of which she is president, were sentenced for selling misbranded prescription drugs to farmers for use in their livestock operations. The sentencing took place in Federal court in Sioux City, Iowa .
Livestock Concept's president, Becky Rus, had previously pled guilty and was convicted of one count of introducing into interstate commerce misbranded prescription drugs, a misdemeanor. Livestock Concepts, Inc. had also pled guilty to one count of mail fraud, a felony.
Ms. Rus was sentenced to one year of probation, fined $25,000, ordered to pay $50,000 in restitution to the Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigation and further, as part of a plea agreement, forfeited to the United States government, $225,000. Livestock Concepts, Inc. was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered not to sell prescription drugs during the time of probation. The corporation was also fined $25,000 and ordered to pay $400 in special assessments.
Ms. Rus opera ted two livestock healthcare products businesses, Livestock Concepts, Inc., in Hawarden , Iowa and Livestock Concepts Companion Animal Hospital in Harlan, Iowa . In April 2002, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted a regulatory inspection of Livestock Concepts, Inc. after residues of prescription drugs were found by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in slaughtered cattle, and the prescription drugs were traced to Livestock Concepts, Inc.
The investigation also determined that Livestock Concepts Companion Animal Hospital in Harlan employed a veterinarian who wrote prescriptions drugs sold by the business. This veterinarian resigned in March of 1999, and from March 1999 until April 2000, no veterinarian was employed at either Livestock Concepts, Inc. or the animal hospital. However, Ms. Rus, on behalf of Livestock Concepts, Inc., continued to purchase and dispense prescription drugs without veterinarian prescriptions. As a result, she was in violation of Federal law by selling misbranded drugs.
In addition, Livestock Concepts, Inc. provided false and forged documents to drug suppliers in order to justify its continued purchase of prescription drugs. The corporation also used another veterinarian who sold prescription drugs through the company without ever seeing the livestock he was prescribing drugs for. This is also a violation of Federal law for selling misbranded drugs.
Also, the forged documents included letters sent to suppliers indicating that a veterinarian was being employed by Livestock Concepts, Inc . , when, in fact, no veterinarian was being employed. The letters also included the forged signatures of the veterinarians. Without these forgeries, the suppliers would not have continued to sell prescription drugs to the company or Ms. Rus.
FDA's Kansas City District Office, Office of Criminal Investigations , and Center for Veterinary Medicine Division of Compliance were involved in the investigation of this case. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael M. Hobart.