Southern California Doctor Pleads Guilty to Steroid Distribution, HGH Importation, and Money Laundering
Physician Admits Distributing Steroids Without Medical Justification
JUN 03 -- SAN JOSE – United States Attorney Joseph P. Russoniello and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Anthony D. Williams announced that Dr. Ramon Scruggs pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of conspiracy to illegally distribute anabolic steroids and illegally smuggle human growth hormone into the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, and one count of money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(2)(A).
Dr. Scruggs, 61, of Tustin, California, was indicted by a federal grand jury on March 6, 2008. He was charged with conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States, specifically, the illegal distribution of anabolic steroids and the illegal smuggling of human growth hormone into the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371; the distribution of anabolic steroids, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841; misbranding drugs held for sale with intent to defraud and mislead, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 331(k); conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956; and money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(2)(A). Under the plea agreement, Dr. Scruggs is pleading to the counts charging him with conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids and to bring human growth hormone into the United States and one count of money laundering.
In pleading guilty, Dr. Scruggs admitted that between 2000 and 2003, he distributed anabolic steroids and human growth hormone (“HGH”) to individuals in a manner outside the usual course of professional practice while operating his medical practice at New Hope Health Center in Costa Mesa, California. Dr. Scruggs further admitted that he knew that such distributions were not for a legitimate medical purpose, and that they were instead for non-legitimate purposes, including performance enhancement.
Dr. Scruggs admitted that he illegally distributed between 250 to 1,000 10cc vials of anabolic steroids. He further admitted that on or about May 17, 2003, he illegally distributed the anabolic steroid testosterone to a person in Santa Clara County, and that he caused this distribution of anabolic steroids without a medically adequate examination.
Dr. Scruggs further admitted that he asked others to assist him in the illegal distribution of steroids. On March 11, 2003, an individual under the authority of Dr. Scruggs wire-transferred $3,605 from a bank account under Dr. Scrugg’s control at that time, Bank of America Account #02020-01935, from San Francisco, California, to the People’s Republic of China. The purpose of this transfer was to make a payment for HGH Dr. Scruggs had prescribed for patients without a medically adequate reason or a medically recognized need.
U.S. Attorney Joseph P. Russoniello stated, “Dr. Scruggs’s guilty plea demonstrates the commitment of this office to the prosecution of persons who illegally distribute anabolic steroids and human growth hormone, including medical professionals who abuse their position by distributing controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose. Those who illegally distribute these drugs in a manner contrary to law will face criminal prosecution.”
The sentencing of Dr. Scruggs is scheduled for September 14, 2009 before the Hon. James Ware in San Jose. The maximum statutory penalty for the violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 is five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. The maximum statutory penalty for the violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956 is 20 years imprisonment and a $500,000 fine. Any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Matt Parrella, Jeff Nedrow, and Jeff Finigan are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who are prosecuting the case with the assistance of legal assistant Susan Kreider. The guilty plea is the result of a four-year investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.