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FDA NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
P04-63
June 22, 2004

Media Inquiries: 301-827-6242
Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA

 Lengthy Jail Sentence for Vendor of Laetrile—A Quack Medication to Treat Cancer Patients

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced the outcome of its investigative efforts by the Office of Criminal Investigations, conducted jointly with the United States Attorney's Office (USAO) for the Eastern District of New York and the New York Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), to bring to justice a businessman who had victimized cancer patients by heavily advertising and selling Laetrile, a highly toxic product that has not shown any effect on treating cancer.

Jason Vale, president of the New York-based Christian Brothers Contracting Corp., was sentenced on June 18, 2004 to 63 months in prison and 3 years of supervised release by a United States District Court in the Eastern District of New York.

"There is no scientific evidence that Laetrile offers anything but false hope to cancer patients, some of whom have used it instead of conventional treatment until it was too late for that treatment to be effective," said Dr. Lester M. Crawford, Acting FDA Commissioner. "This sentence sends a strong message that we will not tolerate marketing of bogus medicines."

Following the investigation by FDA, the USAO, and the USPIS, the U.S. District Court for Eastern District of New York placed Vale's illegal sales and promotion of Laetrile -- also known as amygdalin, "Vitamin B-17", or apricot pits -- under injunction in April 2000. Defying the court order, Vale set up a shell corporation in Arizona, and continued to ship the product from the basement of his own home to customers passed on to him by his New York firm. For these activities, Vale was found guilty 11 months ago of three counts of criminal contempt, and ordered to be held without bail pending his sentencing.

Last week, the court also found that Vale, who had made at least $500,000 from his illegal sales of Laetrile, had committed fraud in his marketing of Laetrile. In addition, Vale defrauded the U.S. government by claiming that he qualified for Legal Aid. As a result, Vale was ordered to reimburse the government $31,000 for the costs of his appointed defense attorney.

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