florida pharmacist and web site operator sentenced for illegally distributing prescription drugs
PHILADELPHIA - Wayne White, 52, of Miami, Florida, was sentenced today to 108 months in prison for conspiracy to distribute controlled and non-controlled prescription drugs, the distribution of controlled substances, and conspiracy to commit international money laundering, arising from the distribution of prescription drugs without valid prescriptions. Co-defendant Anthony Spence, 46, of Miramar, Florida, was sentenced to 70 months in prison for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. White and Spence were convicted at trial in October 2012.
White was a pharmacist licensed in the State of Florida and the operator of Superior Drugs, which was located in Miami, Florida. White filled orders for prescription drugs – primarily, the controlled diet drug phentermine – for numerous individuals and entities who operated websites that which sold these drugs over the Internet. Many of White’s online customers were located in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. White began filling orders for Internet pharmacies early as 2002. He was charged with illegally distributing prescription drugs up to May 2010.
During the period charged in the indictment, co-defendant Anthony Spence owned and operated the websites PricebusterRX.com and PricebustersUSA.com, which sold prescription drugs – the majority of which were controlled substances – over the Internet. Most of the customers of the websites operated by Spence were only required to complete an online questionnaire, or answer questions over the telephone; none were examined by the physicians who issued their prescriptions. Spence paid physicians to review the customers’ responses to the online or telephone questionnaires and to issue prescriptions based solely upon the customers’ responses. In some instances, customers sent Spence reports of physical examinations allegedly conducted by other healthcare professionals. The doctors who approved the prescriptions never communicated with the customers or the healthcare professionals who allegedly examined the customers. Spence paid Superior Drugs, which was operated by defendant Wayne White, to fill these invalid prescriptions and to ship them to his customers.
Both defendants were also convicted of conspiracy to introduce misbranded drugs into interstate commerce, which applies to the defendants’ distribution of non-controlled prescription drugs, such as carisoprodol, which is commonly sold under the trade name of Soma and is now a controlled substance, and tramadol, which is commonly sold under the trade name of Ultram. Both of these drugs are addictive and frequently abused.
In May 2007, White was sued by the family of a customer who had an online phentermine order filled by Superior Drugs. The customer died of a phentermine overdose; a bottle of phentermine tablets from Superior Drugs was found in her home. The deceased customer resided in Texas; the doctor who wrote the prescription resided in Puerto Rico.
In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Juan R. Sánchez ordered White to forfeit $10,254,398.49 and pay a fine of $25,000, and ordered Spence to forfeit $4,912,148.10 and pay a fine of $10,000.
Co-defendant Michael Gibson, who pled guilty before trial, was a physician licensed in the State of Georgia who issued invalid prescriptions for prescription drugs for customers whom he neither saw, spoke to, or examined. He began working for Spence in 2008, after the doctor whom Spence had previously hired was investigated, and eventually prosecuted, for writing invalid prescriptions and tax evasion. Gibson began working for co-defendant Carleta Carolina in 2009. The sentencing hearing for Gibson is scheduled for February 8, 2013 before Judge Sánchez.
Co-defendant Carleta Carolina, who is also charged with illegally operating Internet websites to sell controlled and prescription drugs and hiring White to fill and ship her orders, is a fugitive.
The case was investigated by the Diversion and Enforcement Divisions of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations, the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, the United States Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York Division. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Frank R. Costello, Jr. and Vineet Gauri.
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, EASTERN DISTRICTof PENNSYLVANIA
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