Former Weston Man Pleads Guilty to $2.25 Million Internet Steroids Distribution
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a former Weston, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to leading a $2.25 million conspiracy to sell anabolic steroids over the Internet.
Aaron Vincent Schweidler, 32, of Smithfield, N.C., formerly of Weston, pleaded guilty before U.S. Chief District Judge Greg Kays to participating in a conspiracy to manufacture and distribute anabolic steroids and to a conspiracy to commit money laundering.
By pleading guilty today, Schweidler admitted that he and co-conspirators operated an Internet-based company, Power Trip, which sold various anabolic steroids to customers (including athletes and minors) throughout the United States.
Co-defendants Nicole R. Lyne, 26, also of Smithfield, N.C., and formerly of Weston; Michael G. Peters, 27, of Pelham, N.H.; and Samuel C. Miller IV, 30, of Annapolis, Md., have also pleaded guilty.
Conspirators required customers to pay for the steroids by using various debit cards. Customers used names and account numbers for these debit cards that were provided by conspirators. Conspirators used stolen identities to produce or obtain debit cards, such as Green Dot MoneyPak, MyVanilla, ReloadIT, NetSpend ReloadIT and BlackHawk. They required their customers to send payments to these cards in order to conceal and disguise the proceeds of the illegal transactions.
Schweidler began operating this online anabolic steroid distribution business in late 2011 in Utah. Schweidler quickly sought out assistance from other conspirators, including Peters, to help collect the proceeds from the illegal drug sales. Eventually Schweidler relocated the operation to North Carolina, until relocating again in 2013 to the Kansas City, Mo., area.
During the early stages of the conspiracy Schweidler was as the leader of the conspiracy. Schweidler was primarily responsible for the manufacture and distribution of the steroids and he managed the collection of illegal drug proceeds. Initially Peters’s role was primarily to collect the illegal drug proceeds from customers who were required to pay via MoneyGram and Western Union, and also later via debit cards. Peters eventually joined Schweidler in North Carolina to continue the operation. Over time Peters also became more involved with Schweidler in purchasing supplies and assisting in the steroid manufacturing process, as well has handling online customer orders and shipping steroids to customers.
In late summer 2013, Schweidler and Peters relocated the operation to the Kansas City, Mo, area, and Lyne became involved in the conspiracy. Eventually Schweidler turned over more operational duties to Peters, who recruited Miller to move to Kansas City to assist in the operation. In the fall of 2014, Peters and Miller took over operational responsibilities for PowerTrip and relocated the operation back to North Carolina in an effort to avoid law enforcement detection of the operation.
During the conspiracy Schweidler personally sent in excess of $176,000 in drug proceeds to China via Western Union and MoneyGram to purchase additional raw materials to manufacture anabolic steroids.
According to today’s plea agreement, a reasonable conservative estimate of the dosage units of anabolic steroids which were reasonably foreseeable to Schweidler is over 60,000 dosage units of Testosterone Propionate, Halotestin, and other anabolic steroids. This estimate is based upon the ingredients and amounts indicated in the steroid recipe notebook recovered when Peters and Miller were arrested in North Carolina.
Utilizing the least expensive raw ingredients for the manufactured finished product (Testosterone Propionate), and utilizing the known dollar amount of raw ingredients purchased by conspirators (approximately $200,000, less shipping costs), would yield nearly 1 million grams of raw materials that could manufacture approximately 90,000 vials (approximately 900,000 dosage units based upon a 10 – 100mg dosage unit per vial). PowerTrip sold this product for $25 per vial, which results in a conservative estimate of gross proceeds of at least $2.25 million in sales.
Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, Schweidler will be sentenced to four years in federal prison without parole. Schweidler also must forfeit to the government $2.25 million, which was derived from the proceeds of the illegal drug trafficking, and property in Smithfield, N. C. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jess E. Michaelsen. It was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration.