October 19, 2009: Charity Operator Pleads Guilty in a Scheme Involving Prescription Drugs That Had Been Donated to Assist the Poor in Developing Countries
Food and Drug Administration
Office of Criminal Investigations
U.S. Department of Justice Press Release
For Immediate Release
October 19, 2009
United States Attorney
District of Maryland
Contact: Marcia Murphy
Baltimore, Maryland - Joseph Egbe, age 44, of Gwynn Oak, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to misbranding of pharmaceuticals, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.
According to his plea agreement and court documents, Egbe owned and operated "e-Meditech," a charitable organization. e-Meditech requested and received drugs from other charitable organizations, including Catholic Medical Mission Board ("CMMB"), with the understanding that it would ship or transport the drugs to Africa for donation to the underprivileged. CMMB acted as a repository for prescription drugs that had been donated by manufacturers for distribution to foreign countries of need, including Cameroon, Africa, to assist developing countries in providing better health care to their indigent residents. In this mission, CMMB subcontracted with third parties such as e-Meditech to assist in distributing the medication to the recipient countries. Egbe understood that he could not sell or transfer the drugs to any other person for any reason.
Between 2007 and 2008, Egbe received shipments of prescription drugs from CMMB. From a June 2008 shipment, Egbe removed the prescription drugs from the boxes and placed them in barrels. Egbe then created false labels, which he affixed to the barrels. The false labels reflected codes falsely identifying the drugs and false expiration dates. On June 18, 2008, Egbe sold the drugs for $2,500 to a pharmacist who owned and operated two pharmacies in Baltimore, Maryland. Egbe delivered the barrels to the pharmacist’s driver who took them to the pharmacy, the Medicine Shoppe on Liberty Road. Between January 25, 2005 and February 19, 2008, the pharmacist wrote at least 12 additional checks to Egbe, totaling $7,833.
Egbe faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison followed by one year of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis has scheduled sentencing for January 4, 2010 at 9:30 a.m.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the Department of Health and Human Services - Office of Inspector General and the Food and Drug Administration - Office of Criminal Investigations for their investigative work. Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorneys Sandra Wilkinson and Tonya Kelly Kowitz, who are prosecuting the case.