April 3, 2019: Marquette Man Pleads Guilty to Attempting to Smuggle Goods into the United States
A Marquette, Michigan man pleaded guilty today to smuggling products into the United States using fraudulent shipping invoices, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider announced.
Schneider was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge William P. Conway, of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations.
Pleading guilty was Curtis Wenzlaff, 55.
According to court records, Curtis Wenzlaff operated a domestic profit corporation, Sanno Industries, Inc., out of his residence previously located in Flushing, Michigan. Wenzlaff was acting as a drop shipper for companies outside the United States and was paid to assume the risk and consequences of the U.S. government identifying, seizing, and refusing entry of products illegally imported in to the United States.
Beginning in July 2014 and continuing until April 2016, Wenzlaff was involved with smuggling into the United States products commonly used to make drugs regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The products were falsely labeled, among other things, as blueberry extract and sunscreen lotion ingredients. Wenzlaff would accept delivery of the packages. Once a product was successfully delivered to Wenzlaff, other individuals would then provide him with instructions regarding relabeling, repackaging and shipping the product to the intended customer. Wenzlaff received in excess of $25,000 from shippers to receive and reship the packages. Defendant claims that a portion of the money received was reimbursement for shipping expenses associated with the imported product.
Wenzlaff knew that the merchandise imported into the United States was not intended for the uses he claimed on shipping documents. Even so, he knowingly received the product and then concealed it in order to facilitate the sale of the merchandise to a third party. The value of the merchandise/products illegally smuggled into the United States by Wenzlaff was in excess of $1,000,000.00.
“I commend the agents of the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations for their work on this case,” stated United States Attorney Schneider. “Our office is always working to protect Michigan consumers from harm, and that’s especially true in cases where people try to evade federal health and safety regulations in exchange for their own personal profits.”
“FDA regulations are in place to protect consumers and help ensure the drug products they receive are safe and effective,” said Special Agent in Charge William P. Conway, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations’ Chicago Field Office. “When unscrupulous importers attempt to evade FDA’s regulations, consumers in the U.S. are put at risk. The FDA will continue to pursue and bring to justice those who participate in fraudulent smuggling schemes to the detriment of public health.”
Wenzlaff’s plea agreement provides for an anticipated sentencing guideline range of 24-30 months’ imprisonment. Wenzlaff entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Matthew Leitman in Flint, Michigan. Sentencing has been set for August 8, 2019 at 1:30 p.m..
The case was investigated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nancy Abraham.