st. robert husband, wife plead guilty to conspiracy to distribute prescription drugs over the internet
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that two former St. Robert, Mo., residents have pleaded guilty in federal court to their roles in a conspiracy to distribute prescription drugs through Internet pharmacy Web sites.
Anthony D. Holman, 35, and his wife, Arcelia Holman, 43, both formerly of St. Robert, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. England on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011, to the charges contained in an Aug. 6, 2008, federal indictment.
Anthony and Arcelia Holman pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to distribute such prescription drugs as hydrocodone, alprazolam and zolpidem by using fraudulent prescriptions obtained through the Web sites they operated, beginning sometime in 2005 and continuing to Oct. 16, 2007. They also pleaded guilty to their roles in a money-laundering conspiracy related to financial transactions that involved the proceeds of the drug-trafficking conspiracy.
By pleading guilty, the Holmans agreed to forfeit to the government nearly $407,000 that was seized from their bank accounts by law enforcement officers as well as a BMW sport utility vehicle, a Chevrolet Corvette and a Toyota 4Runner.
Anthony and Arcelia Holman owned and operated PersonalizedRx, LLC, a Missouri corporation located in St. Robert. On four occasions from January through April 2007, they sold hydrocodone to undercover law enforcement agents through the Web site.
On March 7, 2007, Anthony Holman told an undercover law enforcement officer that the Web site generated $100,000 in revenue per month; another Web site in which he had an interest generated $50,000 in revenue per month.
Co-defendant Marvin Eugene Nelson, 63, of Waynesville, Mo., pleaded guilty on Nov. 22, 2010, to his role in the conspiracy. Nelson co-owned and operated another Web site that illegally distributed hydrocodone.
According to the federal indictment, customers usually began by filling out an online “medical history questionnaire” and submitting medical records via fax. Customers paid for an “initial consultation” via credit card or cash on delivery (C.O.D.); medical insurance was not accepted. The identity of the customer, the medical information in the questionnaire, and the medical records were not verified. During a telephone consultation with a physician or physician assistant, the customer would state what controlled substance he wanted to order, which the person conducting the consultation would then recommend be prescribed for the customer. That recommendation, along with the customer information, would then be forwarded to a physician who worked for the Internet pharmacy Web site operation.
The physicians or physician assistants who conducted the consultations had no face-to-face contact with the customers, did not verify the clients’ identities or age, did not conduct any physical examinations or testing, did not verify any medical records and often were not licensed in the states in which the customers resided, the indictment alleges. The physicians or physician assistants conducting the consultations had no pre-existing physician-patient relationship with any customer, and did not communicate with anyone who did, before approving prescription drug orders for the customers.
Physicians and physician assistants were paid a fee for each consultation and prescription, according to the indictment. Licensed pharmacists located across the United States were recruited and paid on behalf of PersonalizedRx-affiliated Web sites to fill drug orders. These orders were usually faxed to the pharmacies from the Missouri-based operation centers. The pharmacies would fill the prescription in the customer’s name and ship it to the customer.
Under federal statutes, Anthony and Arcelia Holman are each subject to a sentence of up to 15 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $500,000. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kate Mahoney. It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the South Central Missouri Drug Task Force and IRS-Criminal Investigation.
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