Suspended North Side Pharmacist Indicted For Allegedly Smuggling And Trafficking Counterfeit Viagra
CHICAGO — A suspended Chicago pharmacist was indicted for allegedly illegally obtaining counterfeit Viagra and Cialis from China and illegally dispensing the bogus medications at his north side pharmacy. The defendant, MICHAEL MARKIEWICZ, who owns Belmont Pharmacy, 6148 West Belmont, allegedly ordered three shipments of counterfeit Viagra from China, including one that also contained Cialis, and also trafficked counterfeit Viagra from his pharmacy between December 2010 and August 2012.
The Illinois Department of Professional Regulation suspended Markiewicz’ pharmacist license and revoked the license of Belmont Pharmacy in November 2012. The store continues operating as a nutrition and herb retailer.
Markiewicz, also known as Michael Markowitz, 36, of Norridge, was charged with eight counts of violating the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, four counts of trafficking in counterfeit drugs or goods using a counterfeit mark, and three counts of smuggling in a 15-count indictment that was returned yesterday by a federal grand jury. He will be arraigned in U.S. District Court on a date yet to be determined. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of his business premises and residence.
The indictment was announced today by Gary S. Shapiro, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; John P. Stich, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, and Pete Zegarac, Inspector-in-Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Chicago.
According to the indictment, in April 2011 and May 2012, via the Internet, Markiewicz ordered counterfeit Viagra and Cialis from China. The customs declaration on the outer packaging stated that it contained a “gift pen,” and the drugs were hidden in unlabeled clear plastic baggies underneath the pen. The charges allege that Markiewicz smuggled counterfeit and misbranded pills purporting to be Viagra and Cialis, knowing that they were illegally imported, and then violated FDA laws by selling the counterfeit medications.
Trafficking counterfeit drugs carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $2 million fine; each count of trafficking counterfeit goods using a counterfeit mark carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $2 million fine; smuggling carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine; and violating the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Samuel B. Cole.
The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.