Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations
October 15, 2012: Pharmacist and Website Operator Convicted of Illegally Distributing Prescription Drugs
PHILADELPHIA-Wayne White and Anthony Spence, of Miami and Miramar, Florida, respectively, were convicted today of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and other charges related to their distribution of prescription drugs without valid prescriptions from at least July 2002 through May 2010. Many of White’s and Spence’s online customers were located in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Defendant Wayne White was a pharmacist licensed in the State of Florida and the operator of Superior Drugs, which was located in Miami, Florida. White filled orders for prescription drugs – primarily, the controlled diet drug phentermine – for a number of individuals and entities who operated websites which sold these drugs over the Internet, including defendant Anthony Spence. White began filling orders for Internet pharmacies early as 2002; he began filling orders for Spence in late 2003.
During the period charged in the indictment, defendant Anthony Spence owned and operated the websites PricebusterRX.com, PricebustersUSA.com, and premiereskincare.com, which sold prescription drugs – the majority of which were controlled substances – over the Internet. Most of the customers of the websites operated by Spence were only required to complete an online questionnaire, or answer questions over the telephone; none were examined by the physicians who issued their prescriptions. Spence paid physicians to review the customers’ responses to the online or telephone questionnaires and to issue prescriptions based solely upon the customers’ responses. In some instances, customers sent Spence reports of physical examinations allegedly conducted by other healthcare professionals. The doctors who approved the prescriptions never communicated with the customers or the people who allegedly examined the customers. Spence paid Superior Drugs, which was operated by defendant Wayne White, to fill these invalid prescriptions and to ship them to his customers.
Both defendants were also convicted of conspiracy to introduce misbranded drugs into interstate commerce, which applies to the defendants’ distribution of non-controlled prescription drugs, such as carisoprodol (commonly sold under the trade name of Soma®) and tramadol, (commonly sold under the trade name of Ultram®). In addition, White was convicted of distribution of controlled substances and conspiracy to commit international money laundering.
Sentencing hearings for both White and Spence are scheduled for January 30, 2013 before U.S. District Court Judge Juan R. Sánchez. White faces a possible maximum statutory sentence of 81 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $3,350,000. Spence faces a possible maximum statutory sentence of 11 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $350,000.
Defendant Carleta Carolina, who is also charged with operating Internet websites and hiring White to fill and ship her orders, is a fugitive.
Defendant Michael Gibson, who pled guilty before trial, was a physician licensed in the State of Georgia who issued invalid prescriptions for prescription drugs for customers whom he neither saw, spoke to, or examined. He began working for Spence in 2008, after the doctor whom Spence had previously hired was investigated, and eventually prosecuted, for writing invalid prescriptions and tax evasion. Gibson began working for co-defendant Carleta Carolina in 2009. The sentencing hearing for Gibson is scheduled for January 14, 2013 before U.S. District Court Judge Juan R. Sánchez.
The case was investigated by the Diversion and Enforcement Divisions of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division, the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, the United States Postal Inspection Service, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York Division. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Frank R. Costello, Jr. and Vineet Gauri.