Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations
June 23, 2011: Harrisburg Pharmacist Sentenced to 51 Months in Prison for the Internet Distribution of Prescription Drugs without Valid Prescriptions
The United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, the Food and Drug Administration,Office of Criminal Investigations, the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations, and the Drug Enforcement Administration, announced today that a Pennsylvania licensed pharmacist who operated and managed a pharmacy located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and illegally distributed pain medication and stimulants over the internet, was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 51 months’, a fine of $600, and a term of supervised release of three years, by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Sylvia H. Rambo today in Harrisburg.
According to United States Attorney Peter J. Smith, on September 22, 2010, Stephen L. Marks, age 67, formerly of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, was charged in a seven count indictment by a federal grand jury in Harrisburg.
On January 27, 2011, Marks pled guilty to conspiring to distribute controlled substances and money laundering. At his guilty plea, Marks admitted to illegally distributing pain medications such as hydrocodone and stimulants such as Didrex, phendimetrazine and phentermine to customers who visited websites and ordered their drug of choice, including the dosage and quantity. These drugs pose a substantial risk of addiction and abuse. Marks operated and managed Pharmacy Services, Inc., located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Marks distributed approximately 989,000 units of controlled substances including 577,000 pills of hydrocodone, to customers nationwide and generated sales in excess of $1 million.
At the sentencing hearing before Judge Rambo, Assistant United States Attorney Joseph J. Terz, stated that Marks was warned by the DEA in 2004 that his conduct was illegal and that despite that warning, Marks continued to market the drugs and in effect became an illegal drug dealer. The government also stated that Marks knew the drugs were highly addictive and subject to abuse and that there was no legitimate physician-patient relationship. Marks violated his duty as a healthcare professional and put his personal money interests over his obligations as a licensed pharmacist.
The case was the result of an investigation by agents of the FDA, IRS and DEA.
“Today’s sentence exemplifies the price to be paid by health care professionals who choose to betray the public trust for their personal financial gain,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Jay Scheurer of FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations, Metro Washington Field Office. “We commend the United States Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners for their efforts in investigating and prosecuting this matter.”
"Today's sentencing is a direct result of the excellent partnership the IRS, along with other law enforcement agencies, and the U.S. Attorney’s office has in combating violations of Federal law," said IRS spokesman Michael Royds. "This sentence should serve as a deterrent to those who might contemplate similar fraudulent actions."