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Office of Criminal Investigation 2003

Office of Criminal Investigation 2003

Center for Veterinary Medicine

OCI Finds Unapproved Vet Drug Promoted on Internet

This investigation was initiated based on information regarding the sale and distribution of a foreign injectable muscular stimulant (Kynoselen) from the website www.equinestar.com. FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, deemed the drug Kynoselen to be misbranded and unapproved for sale in the United States. The website was registered to Sunny Kurjian, President of Equine Star Horse and Cattle Products, who operated the company from his residence in Brunswick Hills, Ohio.

On June 6, 2002, the OCI with assistance from the Medina County, Ohio Drug Task Force, executed a search warrant at the company.

On March 4, 2003, Kurjian was charged with violating 21 U.S.C. §§ 331(a) and 333(a)(2) – Introduction of Misbranded Drugs into Interstate Commerce.

On June 3, 2003, Kurjian was convicted of this charge. Kurjian was sentenced to 3 years supervised probation, 6 months home confinement program with electronic monitoring, and participation in a mandatory drug treatment program.

Unapproved and Misbranded Veterinary Prescription Drugs

Defendant Found Distributing Unapproved Veterinary Drugs Without a Prescription

OCI initiated this investigation in June 2001, based on information provided by the Standardbred Investigative Services, Inc. (SIS), of Elkton, Maryland. SIS requested assistance with an investigation regarding the Anchor Serum Company of National Stockyards, Illinois, which was believed to be the source of unapproved and misbranded veterinary prescription drugs.

Without requesting or receiving a veterinary prescription or state veterinarian identification number, Tippett mailed veterinary (injectable) prescription drugs. A search warrant was executed at the premises of the Anchor Serum Company, 59 Front Street, National Stockyards, Illinois.

Subsequent to the execution of the search warrant, Tippett stated that for the last several years he bought and sold various approved and unapproved veterinary prescription drugs. Tippett stated that he routinely purchased approximately $2,500 to $4,000 worth of various veterinary drugs from individuals and companies each month.

On December 18 2002, Tippett was convicted of 21 U.S.C. § 331(k) - Alteration, Mutilation, Destruction, Obliteration, or Removal of the Whole or any Part of the Labeling; 21 U.S.C § 333(a)(2)-Misbranding; and 21 U.S.C. § 353(f)(1)(c) - Dispensing a Drug Contrary to Provisions.

On March 14, 2003, Tippett was sentenced to 1 year and 1 day of supervised probation, and a $3,500 fine.

Bird Poisoning of Federally Protected Birds

OCI & U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Investigate Poisoning of Birds

OCI’s Kansas City Field Office initiated this case based on information received from the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Service. The information referred to a massive bird poisoning incident in Seligman, Missouri, involving a FDA regulated veterinary drug called Famphur. Famphur is contained in the product Warbex. The only approved use for Warbex is for the treatment of lice and grub infestation in cattle.

Among the birds poisoned were federally protected migratory birds including eagles, hawks and owls. The location where the poisoning occurred was determined to be on the William Gundel farm near Seligman, Missouri. Both Gundel and his wife, Sarah, were interviewed. They both initially denied deliberating poisoning the birds, but later admitted that they had mixed grain with the Warbex in an attempt to kill nuisance birds such as starlings and sparrows. Donald E. Smith admitted that it was his idea to use the Warbex and that he supplied the Warbex to the Gundel’s.

On December 12, 2002, Smith was convicted of violating 21 U.S.C. § 331(k) – Adulteration of a Drug. On February 20, 2002, Smith was sentenced to 2 years probation. William Gundel was issued a citation by the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Service and paid a $500.00 fine.

U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Service Uncover Additional Bird Poisoning Incident – Request OCI Assistance

The U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW) notified OCI’s Kansas City Field Office, of several massive bird poisoning incidents near Lamar, Missouri, involving a FDA regulated vet drug called Famphur, which is contained in the product Warbex (a pesticide). The only approved use for Warbex is for the treatment of cattle for lice and grub infestation. Among the birds poisoned were federally protected migratory birds including eagles, hawks and owls. The locations where the birds were poisoned were identified. As a result, there were several judicial actions as noted below.

One location was determined to be near a feed business called Rice’s Feed Service. Many of the protected species in this area were recovered and tested positive for the presence of Famphur. Marshall Miller, an employee at Rice’s Feed Service, sold the Warbex. Miller suggested the use of Warbex to kill the nuisance birds.

On September 3, 2002, Miller and Rice’s Feed Service were convicted of violations of 21 U.S.C. § 331(k) - Adulteration of a Drug after Introduction into Interstate Commerce; 21 U.S.C. § 333(a) (1) – Misbranding; and 18 U.S.C. § 2- Aiding and Abetting. On February 3, 2003, Rice’s Feed Service and Miller entered into a pre-trial diversion program. Rice’s Feed Service received 12 months probation and a $1,000.00 fine. Miller received 12 months probation and 100 hours of community service on a conservation related project.

A second location was determined to be near a farmer’s cooperative business called Missouri Farmers Association Agri-Services (MFA). Many of the protected species in this area were recovered and tested positive for the presence of Famphur. Two undercover purchases of Warbex were made from two different employees at the business. Lynton Hickman and Bert Phipps suggested the use of Warbex to kill the nuisance birds, and made statements to the undercover agent to be careful since such use was illegal. Both conversations were recorded.

On September 3, 2002, MFA, Hickman, and Phipps were convicted of violations of 21 U.S.C. § 331(k) - Adulteration of a Drug after Introduction into Interstate Commerce; 21 U.S.C. § 333(a) (1) – Misbranding; and 18 U.S.C. § 2- Aiding and Abetting. On the same date, MFA, Phipps, and Hickman entered into a pre-trial diversion program. On January 23, 2003, MFA received 12 months probation and a $9,000.00 fine. Phipps received 12 months probation and 100 hours of community service on a conservation related project. Hickman received 12 months probation and 50 hours of community service on a conservation related project.

OCI Investigates Smuggling of Veterinary Prescription Drugs from Canada

In May 2000, OCI’s Chicago Field received information that August "Augie" Blevins was involved in the illegal sale of American and Canadian veterinary prescription drugs to “standard bred” owners and trainers in the London, Ohio area. Blevins was smuggling these illegal veterinary prescription drugs into the United States from Canada.

During these smuggling operations, Blevins was also involved in smuggling cloned cell phones, illegal DIRECTV satellite programming cards, and suspicious U.S. currency transactions.

On January 13, 2001, Blevins, upon re-entering the United States, was searched by the U.S. Customs and Border Control. As a result of the search, misbranded Canadian veterinary prescription drugs were seized.

On September 11, 2002, Blevins was indicted and charged with violations of 18 U.S.C. § 371 - Conspiracy to smuggle misbranded drugs and DIRECTV cards into the U.S.; 21 U.S.C. §§ 331(a), 353(f)(1)(c), 333(a)(2) - Introduction into Interstate Commerce of a Misbranded Drug while held for sale; 18 U.S.C. § 2112 (1)(b) - Surreptitious Interception of Electronic Communications; and 18 U.S.C. § 545 - Smuggling of Contraband into the U.S.

On March 7, 2003, Blevins was convicted of 18 U.S.C. § 371 - Conspiracy to smuggle misbranded drugs and DIRECTV cards into the U.S.; and 21 U.S.C. §§ 331(a), 353(f) (1) (c), 333(a) (2) - Introduction into Interstate Commerce of a Misbranded Drug while held for sale.

On June 27, 2003, Blevins was sentenced by Judge Marbley of the United States District Court, Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, to 2 years probation on each count to run concurrently.

This investigation was worked with the Standard Bred Investigative Services, an investigative arm of the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau of Elkton, Maryland.