Tulare County Man Indicted for Falsely Marketing Herbal Mixtures as FDA-Approved Treatment for COVID-19
FRESNO, Calif. —John Derek Gitmed, 53, of Los Angeles, pleaded guilty today to one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to court documents, Gitmed, along with his ex-wife, Holly Gitmed, 39, of Riverbank, his daughter Felicia Gitmed, 24, of Los Angeles, and his nephew Anthony Pollino, 37, of Los Angeles, conspired to obtain counterfeit copies of the erectile-dysfunction drugs Viagra®, Cialis®, and Levitra®, along with their packaging, and sell them to consumers throughout California and in the Las Vegas, Nevada area. The defendants assured buyers their products were genuine, when they were actually cheaply made foreign copies of the drugs. The defendants operated as a business, calling their operation the “California Confidence Company.” Gitmed admitted that the value of the counterfeit products attributable to him as over $1.2 million.
This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Michael G. Tierney and Henry Z. Carbajal III are prosecuting the case.
Gitmed is in custody and is scheduled to be sentenced by Senior United States District Judge Anthony W. Ishii on October 19, 2015. He faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $5 million fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
Each of Gitmed’s co-defendants previously pleaded guilty to one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods. Holly Gitmed pleaded guilty on June 8, 2015, and is scheduled to be sentenced on August 24, 2015. Felicia Gitmed pleaded guilty on June 22, 2015, and is scheduled to be sentenced on January 25, 2016. Anthony Pollino pleaded guilty on July 20, 2015 and is scheduled to be sentenced on October 5, 2015.