Two Plead Guilty To Participation In International Conspiracy To Import And Distribute Prescription Drugs And Anabolic Steroids
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Two Rhode Island men have pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Providence, R.I., to participating in an international conspiracy to illegally import and distribute prescription drugs and anabolic steroids.
Edmond Paolucci, 54, of Coventry, and Patrick Cunningham, 44, of Cranston, admitted to the court that they participated in a conspiracy to repackage the illegal drugs and sell them under various names and labels to consumers who placed orders via the Internet. A significant portion of the proceeds realized from the sale of the illegal drugs was laundered back to individuals in Israel.
Paolucci and Cunningham’s guilty pleas were announced by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha; Mark Dragonetti, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Office of Criminal Investigation.
According to information presented to the court, an investigation by the Rhode Island FDA Task Force revealed that from at least November 2009 until November 2011, Mr. Paolucci served as a U.S. confederate of an Israelis-based, international drug distribution ring that was also responsible for the manufacture and sale of prescription drugs, including drugs bearing the underground brand names Sciroxx and Xsorox in the United States and elsewhere.
According to information presented to the court, various misbranded prescription drugs as well as bulk quantities of pills and injectable oil-based drugs in 650 ml. jugs were shipped from Israel, Turkey and Bulgaria to postal boxes in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Through his co-conspirators in Rhode Island, including Patrick Cunningham, Mr. Paolucci used an underground laboratory to repackage the drugs into retail-size pill packets and 10 ml vials, bearing Sciroxx and Xsorox labels that he then shipped to customers in the United States who had made purchases on websites operated by Mr. Paolucci and his Israeli co-conspirators. A significant portion of the proceeds from the sale of the misbranded and mislabeled drugs was sent back to co-conspirators in Israel.
Court authorized searches of Paolucci and Cunningham’s residences resulted in the seizure of a large amount of paraphernalia related to the manufacture and distribution of steroids. Agents also found various non-controlled and controlled drugs including 10 ml vials labeled as containing the anabolic steroids Testosterone, Enanthate, Boldenone, and Trenbolone.
According to information presented to the court, records obtained from money transfer service companies showed that from February 2009 to September 2011 Mr. Paolucci transferred in excess of $76,000 in proceeds from steroid and prescription drug sales to individuals in Israel.
Patrick Cunningham pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one count each conspiracy to distribute steroids and distribution of a misbranded drug. The defendant is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr. on May 28, 2013.
Edmond Paolucci pleaded guilty on November 28, 2012, to one count each of conspiracy to distribute steroids, possession with the intent to distribute steroids, distribution of a misbranded drug, and money laundering. The defendant is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr. on April 9, 2013.
Conspiracy to distribute steroids and possession with the intent to distribute steroids is punishable by a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison; a fine up to $500,000; and a term of supervised release of 2 years to life. Distribution of a misbranded drug and money laundering is punishable by a maximum sentence of up to 3 years in federal prison; a fine of up to $10,000; and a term of supervised release of 2 years.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard B. Myrus.
A task force led by the Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations, conducted the investigation. The task force partnerships include the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, the Rhode Island State Police, the North Providence Police, the East Providence Police, and the Rhode Island National Guard.
United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha and Mark Dragonetti, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigation, acknowledged the assistance of international counterparts at the Israel Ministry of Health, Division of Enforcement and Inspection, and Jerusalem Customs and VAT who provided significant assistance in the investigation of this matter.