PITTSBURGH, PA – Three residents of British Columbia, Canada, and the company they operated have been sentenced in federal court in Pittsburgh on charges of conspiring to distribute wholesale quantities of misbranded prescription drugs made for the foreign market and money laundering, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.
United States District Judge Cathy Bissoon sentenced each of the defendants - Tony Lee, 41, of Vancouver, BC, Billy Lee, 43, of White Rock, BC, and Tarnjeet Uppal, 37, of Surray, BC, - to three years probation and a fine of $55,000. Judge Bissoon sentenced their company, Quantum Solutions, SRL, to a $150,000 fine and ordered it to forfeit of $4,235,000.
According to the information presented to the court, Tony Lee, Billy Lee and Tarn Uppal, all Vancouver, B.C. residents, operated Quantum Solutions, SRL (hereafter, Quantum), a company registered in Barbados. Quantum purchased prescription drugs made for foreign markets and sold wholesale quantities to three pharmacists in western Pennsylvania. Quantum purchased the drugs from suppliers located in Turkey, Great Britain and other countries. The defendants arranged for these misbranded drugs to be sent to a re-shipper in the United Kingdom (UK). The UK re-shipper was instructed to unpack the drugs, repack them in several small packages, put misleading labeling and shipping documentation on them and understate the dollar value of the contents in order to create the appearance to U.S. Customs and Border Protection that the drugs were health care products for the personal use of the addressee. The small packages were sent to Washington State and New York State re-shippers known to the U.S. Attorney, where they were once again unpacked and repacked for delivery in the United States. Wholesale quantities of these misbranded drugs intended for use in foreign markets were purchased by three pharmacists in western Pennsylvania. The wire transfers, checks and credit card payments from the pharmacists traveled from western Pennsylvania to Canada and Barbados. None of the re-shippers was licensed in the United States to conduct this business. None of the prescription drugs met FDA approval because they were made and labeled for use outside of the United States.
"Distributing prescription drugs produced and labeled for use outside of the United States within our borders not only violates federal law but also threatens the health and safety of our citizens," said U.S. Attorney Brady. "We are committed to investigating and prosecuting any drug company that illegally circumvents the regulated process for the distribution of prescription drugs."
"Criminals who distribute misbranded prescription drugs from outside the U.S. supply chain put the health of all U.S. consumers at risk," said Mark S. McCormack, Special Agent in Charge, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations’ Metro Washington Field Office. "Our skilled cybercrime investigators will continue to disrupt and dismantle illegal prescription drug distribution networks."
"The role of IRS-Criminal Investigation in a case like this is to follow the money, which in turn allows us to disrupt and dismantle the organization", said Guy Ficco, Special Agent in Charge of IRS-Criminal Investigation. "The defendants who perpetrated this scheme put the American public at risk. By providing our financial expertise, IRS-CI is committed to working with our partners at the FDA and the US Attorney’s Office to see to it that criminals like this are stopped."
Assistant United States Attorney Nelson P. Cohen prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.
The United States Attorney commended the United States Food and Drug Administration-Office of Criminal Investigations and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Tony Lee, Billy Lee and Tarn Uppal, and Quantum Solutions, SRL.