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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Pennsylvania

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Illinois Man Charged With Illegally Distributing Peptides And HGH

PITTSBURGH - A resident of Park Ridge, Ill., has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges of mail fraud, misbranding of drugs, distribution of human growth hormone and money laundering, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

The 11-count indictment named Ronald J. DeFranco, 54, as the sole defendant.

According to the indictment, DeFranco maintained a website for the illegal distribution of peptides - chemical compounds that require a prescription for dispensation, but which are illegitimately sought by body builders for muscle enhancement. DeFranco deceived the Internet service provider and the FDA by falsely representing on the website that he was selling these substances "for research purposes only . . . not for human consumption." In addition to sales of peptides, DeFranco also allegedly sold human growth hormone (HGH) without the required physician's prescriptions. During the period from May 2010 until January 2011, DeFranco allegedly paid $94,777.40 in Western Union and bank wire transfers to acquire these substances from suppliers in the Peoples Republic of China.

The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on each of four mail fraud counts; three years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on each of four misbranding counts; five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each HGH distribution count; and 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000 on the money laundering count. 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 defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Leo M. Dillon is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The prosecution arose from the combined efforts of agents with the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations, IRS - Criminal Investigation and the DEA.

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

Updated July 14, 2015