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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Businessman Sentenced to Over Five Years for Selling Bogus HIV-Testing Kits

U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Eastern District of California
Federal Building, Room 3654
United States Courthouse
1130 O. Street
Fresno, California 93721
559-498-7272

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 17, 1999

Fresno -- United States Attorney Paul L. Seave announced today that Larry Greene, 51, of Los Banos, California, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Robert E. Coyle to 63 months imprisonment. On November 18, 1998, the defendant was found guilty by Judge Coyle following a bench trial of 5 counts of mail fraud and 11 counts of wire fraud, involving a scheme to defraud members of the public by fraudulently marketing and selling unapproved and medically useless HIV test kits for home use. HIV is the virus that causes the disease AIDS. Greene has been in federal custody since December 10, 1997.

Greene marketed his home test kits over the Internet and through several Central Valley pharmacies. Greene represented the test kits as "confidential, safe, accurate and easy to use" even though he knew the kits were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, as required by law. In fact the method of testing marketed by Greene lacked any scientific or factual basis. As part of his scheme, Greene provided bogus test results to several of the purchasers of his HIV test kits.

Judge Coyle sentenced Greene more severely than in the typical fraud case, finding that Greene's conduct was extreme in the emotional impact he inflicted on his victims. Judge Coyle remarked that by defrauding his victims into buying the HIV test kits, he led them to believe that they would receive accurate test results, when in fact, they were never even tested. In imposing sentence, Judge Coyle stated that he was sentencing Greene to the maximum allowed by law because "the defendant has not shown any remorse and is a prime candidate for reoffending."

In announcing the sentence, Mr. Seave stated, "Those who seek to profit from the tragedies associated with the spread of the HIV virus by illegal means will be vigorously prosecuted and held accountable for their despicable acts."

Assistant United States Attorneys Sherrill A. LaPrade and Mark E. Cullers prosecuted the case. This case is the product of an extensive investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA-OCI). Due to the substantial public health threat that Greene posed by marketing bogus HIV test kits, the FDA initiated a recall of these test kits, only the second FDA-initiated recall of a medical device in its over 75-year history.