Animal & Veterinary
Vitek Sentenced In Smuggling Case
February 12, 1997
On January 21, 1997, U.S. District Judge Thomas J. Curran, sentenced Jannes (John) Doppenberg, president of Vitek Supply Corporation, Oak Grove, Wisconsin, to 44 months in prison. Vitek and Doppenberg were convicted in June 1996 on 12 felony counts stemming from a scheme to smuggle into the United States and distribute unapproved animal drugs for use in veal calves.
In addition to the prison sentence, Judge Curran fined Doppenberg $25,000 and ordered him and Vitek to pay restitution totaling $29,452 to the United States Customs Service and $705,814 for damages to a meatpacking company that destroyed a substantial quantity of veal because its calves had been fed furazolidone, one of the unapproved drugs distributed by Vitek. Judge Curran also sentenced Vitek to pay a fine of $350,000. In addition to the fine, Vitek was ordered to provide a written program to the Court outlining how they would institute procedures to prevent similar violations from occurring in the future.
At the sentencing hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric J. Klumb emphasized the risk to public health created by Doppenberg and Vitek's scheme. The unapproved drugs involved included clenbuterol, a drug that has been associated with acute food poisoning in humans who consumed meat from treated animals; avoparcine, an antibiotic that, if widely used in animals, may result in the transfer to humans of bacteria resistant to treatment by vancomycin, an antibiotic used extensively in human medicine; and furaltadone, furazolidone, and nitrofurazone, drugs shown to be carcinogenic.
This case involved extensive cooperation by the U. S. Department of Justice, Office of Consumer Litigation and U.S. Attorney's Office, the U.S. Customs Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as the Food and Drug Administration. Doppenberg is scheduled to begin his jail term on March 10, 1997.