Food and Drug Administration
Office of Criminal Investigations
U.S. Department of Justice Press Release
For Immediate Release
October 17, 2012
United States Attorney
District of Maryland
Contact: AUSA Vickie E. Leduc or Marcia Murphy
Greenbelt, Maryland - A federal grand jury has indicted Ronald Dalessandro, age 48, of Frederick, Maryland, today on charges of selling drug paraphernalia, specifically, hypodermic needles and syringes; and two counts of filing a false tax return; and one count of failing to file a tax return.
The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Antoinette V. Henry of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), Office of Criminal Investigations; and Special Agent in Charge Rick A. Raven of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office.
"The FDA Office of Criminal Investigations and our law enforcement partners will vigorously pursue unscrupulous suppliers who seek to profit from the illegal distribution of medical devices" said Special Agent in Charge Antoinette V. Henry of the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations, Metro Washington Field Office. "Protection of the medical supply chain remains among our highest priorities."
"Individuals who choose not to report all of their income earned from the ownership of a business violates US tax law," said Rick A. Raven, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Washington DC Field Office. "A majority of America's taxpayers play by the rules and fulfill their tax obligations. IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to maintaining the integrity of our tax system and ensuring that everyone pays their fair share of taxes."
According to the 11-count indictment, Dalessandro owned The Needle Beast, LLC, a company through which he marketed and sold hypodermic needles and syringes on the internet through his websites, to individual consumers who sought to enhance their physiques. Dalessandro advertised his company on other websites focused on body building, anabolic steroids, and other performance-enhancing drugs.
According to the indictment, Dalessandro did not require customers to provide prescriptions, verify their age, or complete medical questionnaires, and displayed numerous disclaimers on his website stating that the products sold were "for medical, industrial, or veterinary [sic] use only," in order to avoid FDA scrutiny. Further, the indictment alleges that Dalessandro advised his customers, via e-mail, on the proper needle sizes for self-administering anabolic steroids by injection. According to the indictment, upon receiving payment from customers, Dalessandro would ship the needles and syringes via the U.S. mails to customers around the country.
The indictment alleges that Dalessandro knowingly sold his products to bodybuilders for their personal use, knowing that they intended to use the syringes and needles to inject themselves with body-enhancing substances, including anabolic steroids. Anabolic steroids are Schedule III controlled substances and can only be dispensed with a valid prescription issued by a licensed practitioner.
The indictment also alleges that Dalessandro filed false tax returns for tax years 2006 and 2007, each case underreporting his business income. Specifically, on his 2006 tax return Dalessandro claimed total income of $26,973, when in fact he made $68,432.93; and on his 2007 tax return he claimed total income of $57,528, when in fact he made $105,313.84. In 2008, Dalessandro failed to file a tax return although he had income of at least $133,257.78.
Dalessandro faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison for each of eight counts of selling drug paraphernalia and for each count of filing a false tax return. Dalessandro faces a maximum of one year in prison for failure to file a tax return. No court appearance has been scheduled.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations and IRS Criminal Investigation for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Robert K. Hur, who is prosecuting the case.