Knoxville Man Sentenced for Conspiring to Defraud the FDA
Billy Groce Illegally Shipped and Sold Veterinary Drugs
Abingdon, VIRGINIA – A Tennessee man, who operated a business that unlawfully distributed prescription animal drugs to evade existing Food and Drug Administration laws, was sentenced today in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Abingdon to a federal felony conspiracy charge, United States Attorney Rick A. Mountcastle announced.
Billy K. Groce, 65, of Knoxville, was sentenced today to imprisonment for a term of four months. Groce previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States by impeding, impairing obstructing and defeating the lawful functions of the Food and Drug Administration.
Groce operated a business that was created for the purpose of illegally circumventing the FDA’s regulation of the interstate shipment and labeling of veterinary drugs. Groce’s business illegally obtained, stored, sold and caused to be shipped, drugs from veterinary drug manufacturers and distributers. Groce’s business was not a licensed wholesaler, a licensed pharmacy or a veterinary clinic.
Federal regulation of prescription veterinary drugs are not primarily to protect animals from the potential harms of prescription drugs, but are to protect the human food supply from unsafe drug residues in the edible tissues of animals sold for slaughter. Accordingly, veterinary prescription drugs must stay within the controlled chain of distribution to ensure the drugs’ safety and efficacy.
Groce illegally sold the drugs throughout Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. In addition, Groce shipped drugs to co-conspirator Marlin Webb, who was the store manager at a farm supply business in Carroll County, Virginia. Webb illegally sold the veterinary prescription drugs to customers in Southwest Virginia. Webb previously pleaded guilty to a felony charge of conspiracy to defraud the FDA and was sentenced to one year of probation. He paid $125,000 in forfeiture and other payments at the time of his guilty plea.
The investigation of the case was conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration – Office of Criminal Investigations and the Virginia Department of Health Professions. Assistant United States Attorney Randy Ramseyer prosecuted the case for the United States.