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Press Release

Four Indicted for Roles in Selling Illegal Depressant Etizolam over the Internet

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH – One resident of Alaska and three residents of Florida have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges of conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States, Acting United States Attorney Soo C. Song announced today. Two of the defendants were also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The two-count indictment, returned on August 22 and unsealed today, named William Kulakevich, a/k/a Vilyam Kulakevich, 31, of Delta Junction, Alaska; and Julia Fees, 25, Jacob Bassett, 20, and Ryan Bassett, 34, all of Odessa, Florida.

According to the indictment presented to the court, Kulakevich owned the website and sold the drug Etizolam to customers in the United States, including in the Western District of Pennsylvania. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved Etizolam for use as a drug, and thus it cannot be sold or prescribed in the United States. Fees was responsible for managing, and the indictment alleges that Kulakevich and Fees conspired to launder the proceeds of Etizolam sales. Jacob and Ryan Bassett both played a role in the operation of and the illegal sale of Etizolam to customers throughout the United States.

According to the indictment, Etizolam is a drug known as a thienodiazepine, a class of drugs chemically related to benzodiazepines, which produce central nervous system depression. Physicians may prescribe FDA-approved benzodiazepines to treat insomnia and anxiety, but benzodiazepines and thienodiazepines also carry risks of dependency, toxicity, and even fatal overdose, particularly when combined with other central nervous system depressants.

While prescription drugs containing Etizolam have been approved in some countries outside of the United States, such as India, Ireland, and Japan, the FDA has not approved any drugs containing Etizolam in the United States. Accordingly, Etizolam cannot be legally imported, distributed, or prescribed in the United States for use as a drug.

For Kulakevich and Fees, the law provides for a maximum total sentence of twenty years in prison, as well as a fine of not more than $500,000.00, or twice the value of the laundered funds, whichever is greater. For Jacob and Ryan Bassett, the law provides for a maximum total sentence of five years in prison, a fine of not more than $250,00.00, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendants.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations, assisted by the United States Postal Inspection Service, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Pennsylvania State Police, conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case. Assistant United States Attorney Conor Lamb is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Updated September 13, 2017