News and Press Releases

Las Vegas Man Convicted by Jury of Unlawful DistributionOf Controlled Substances on the Internet

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 1, 2004

Las Vegas, Nev. - A Las Vegas man who operated an Internet business that engaged in the unlawful sale of prescription drugs and controlled substances, has been convicted by a Federal jury of 17 felony counts, including conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to commit various drug offenses, and money laundering, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.

CHRISTIAN FREDERIC FINZE, age 46, a resident of Las Vegas, Nevada, and Bergkirchen, Germany, was convicted Thursday, October 28, 2004, following a three-day jury trial. He is scheduled to be sentenced on January 28, 2005, by Chief U.S. District Judge Philip M. Pro. Under federal statutes, he is facing up to 20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine on each count.

"The successful prosecution of Mr. Finze and Ms. Davis should send a strong deterrent message that individuals who unlawfully distribute drugs over the Internet will be prosecuted and possibly sentenced to terms of imprisonment," said U.S. Attorney Bogden. "Consumers should also know that purchasing controlled substances from unlicensed persons without a valid prescription is unsafe and could threaten your life or the lives of others."

FINZE and co-defendant JOAN DAVIS, aka Joan Smith, also of Las Vegas, were originally indicted on May 22, 2002, on various counts of conspiracy, distribution and importation of controlled substances. The Indictment was later amended to include making false writings to a U.S. agency and money laundering. DAVIS pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Defraud the United States and was sentenced to 37 months in prison on February 9, 2004.

According to court documents, from approximately October 6, 1998, to May 2, 2002, CHRISTIAN FINZE distributed prescription drugs over an Internet business known as the "Vince-Online" website and "Vinci American, Ltd.". Because of their toxicity and other potential harmful effects, prescription drugs are not considered safe for use except under the supervision of a practitioner licensed by law to administer such drugs.

Defendant FINZE caused CFF Pharma Consult, a German business established by the defendant, to ship drugs from Germany to customers in the United States. These shipments included 7,360 units of Flunitrazepam, commonly known as Rohypnol and the "date rape drug," and prescribed and sold lawfully for the short-term treatment of insomnia and as a hypnotic medication. Flunitrazepam is not approved for manufacturing or distribution in the United States.

Defendant FINZE'S role in the conspiracy included processing drug orders; depositing and withdrawing the proceeds of the drug sales into and from the bank accounts; ordering drugs from suppliers in Germany; arranging for CFF Pharma Consult to ship the drugs from Germany to customers in the U.S.; and incorporating and serving as the officer and director of Vinci American, Ltd. and CFF Pharma Consult. The drugs were shipped from Germany into the United States through the use of forged and fraudulent documents designed to deceive employees of the U.S. Customs Service and FDA.

Co-defendant JOAN DAVIS admitted in her guilty plea agreement that she aided and abetted CHRISTIAN FINZE in operating the internet businesses and in importing misbranded drugs from Germany into the U.S. through the use of false, forged, and fraudulent documents designed to deceive government employees.

In returning its verdict, the jury also made the following sentencing enhancement findings:

• FINZE was an organizer or leader of the criminal activity;

• A substantial portion of the fraudulent scheme was committed from outside the U.S.;

• The estimated value of the controlled substances was more than $400,000 but less than $1,000,000;

• The offenses involved the following approximate amounts of controlled substances: 6,050 units of Schedule I; 18,380 units of Schedule II; 4,895 units of Schedule III; 7,360 units of Flunitrazepam (the date rape drug); and 387,197 units of Schedule IV, except Flunitrazepam.

The Government is also seeking the forfeiture of CHRISTIAN FINZE's residence in Las Vegas and approximately $567,000 in U.S. Currency. A hearing on the forfeiture allegations will be set in the near future.

CHRISTIAN FINZE was remanded to custody pending sentencing.

The case is being investigated by Special Agents of the Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigation and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Margaret Stanish and Thomas Dougherty.

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