United States Attorney Anne M. Tompkins
Western District of North Carolina
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Chief U.S. District Judge Robert J. Conrad, Jr. sentenced today Awni Shauaib Zayyad, 56, of Wilson, N.C. to two years in prison for five federal offenses related to the possession and sale of counterfeit Viagra and Cialis pills, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Judge Conrad also ordered Zayyad to serve two years under court supervision following his release from prison and to pay a $10,000 fine and $500 special assessment fee.
U.S. Attorney Tompkins is joined in making today’s announcement by Brock D. Nicholson, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Atlanta and the Carolinas, Chief Rodney D. Monroe, of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD), and Dr. Duane Satzger, Acting Forensic Chemistry Center Director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Cincinnati Office.
In February 2012, a federal jury convicted Zayyad of one count of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit prescription medications containing counterfeit trademarks, two counts of trafficking in counterfeit prescription medications bearing counterfeit trademarks, and two counts of selling and holding for sale counterfeit prescription medications with intent to defraud and mislead. Viagra and Cialis, manufactured respectively by Pfizer and Eli Lilly, are prescription medications for the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED) that lawfully may be distributed to the public only through licensed pharmacies based upon a doctor’s prescription. Trial evidence established that the counterfeit Viagra and Cialis pills Zayyad distributed contained active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) of the ED medications, although in unknown strength and with unknown non-API additives.
Evidence presented at Zayyad’s trial showed that Zayyad sold over 500 counterfeit Viagra pills on June 24, 2010, at a convenience store in Charlotte. According to trial records, on August 23, 2010, Zayyad was en route to Charlotte in a vehicle registered in his wife’s name to sell more counterfeit pills at the same Charlotte convenience store. Law enforcement agents stopped Zayyad’s vehicle in Mecklenburg County before Zayyad could arrive at his destination. Court evidence indicated that law enforcement found 500 counterfeit Viagra pills and over 200 counterfeit Cialis pills hidden in the vehicle.
Evidence from court proceedings established that Zayyad had possessed and/or distributed over 2,000 counterfeit Viagra pills and almost 400 counterfeit Cialis pills during the course of the investigation in 2010. The counterfeit Viagra and Cialis pills had a combined wholesale value exceeding $40,000. Evidence introduced also established that there is a risk of great bodily injury to consumers who purchase and use counterfeit prescription medications outside of a doctor’s care and outside of licensed pharmacies, especially where counterfeit prescription medications contain active pharmaceutical ingredients of unknown strengths, with unknown additives, manufactured in unknown and untraceable clandestine facilities.
The defendant was ordered to self-report to the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility. Federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.
The investigation was led by ICE-HSI, with assistance from CMPD and FDA. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tom O’Malley of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.