Friday, October 10, 2008

Feds indict Utah County residents in online pharmacy sting, Posted by Robert Paisola


Thursday, 09 October 2008
Feds indict Utah County residents in online pharmacy sting Print
Joe Pyrah - Daily Herald

Eight Utah County residents are under indictment for illegally selling millions of prescription drugs online, federal investigators announced Wednesday.

Beginning in 2003, Dr. James A. Brinton and Gregory J. Crosby, both of Provo, along with others, are alleged to have illegally imported prescription drugs from Mexico, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah.

One count of the nine-count indictment alleges that six of the 18 defendants agreed to sell subpotent pills to customers. Buyers who did not have a valid prescription were given one by the online business without a medical evaluation or were simply given the drugs without a prescription.

"Those running illicit pharmacies are no different than your typical drug trafficker," said Frank Smith, of the Drug Enforcement Administration. "We are going after these criminals with the same tenacity that we are after heroin or meth dealers."

Authorities believe that more than 11 million pills were sold for millions of dollars over the past five years.

The case is being investigated by the DEA, the FBI, the IRS, the U.S. Secret Service and the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing.

Court records state that the group used the Web sites and During undercover purchases, DEA agents say the pills they purchased were unmarked and far below the purity levels reported on the label.

"The risk is that while those running these illegal businesses are making millions of dollars, those using the business to order prescription medication may very well be putting their health at risk," said U.S. Attorney for Utah Brett Tolman.

Other charges in the indictment include money laundering and making false statements to DEA investigators.

Prosecutors also announced their intention to seize the property allegedly used to commit the crimes. The list includes hundreds of thousands of dollars in bank accounts, real estate, a 2005 Ford Mustang GT and a 2006 Mercedes-Benz SLK280.

Charged in the indictment are James A. Brinton, age 61, of Provo; Gregory J. Crosby, age 52, of Provo; Noah Sifuentes, age 56, of Orem; Christina K. Haramija, age 30, of Lehi; Laura B. Harding, age 32, of Lehi; Edgar U. Flores-Cuevas, age 35, of Mexico; Martha Forrest, age 65, of Salt Lake City; Kenneth E. Forrest, age 42, of Provo; Treila Shumway, age 38, of Manti; Timothy A. Shields, age 44, of Provo; Deborah E. McCoard, age 41, of Spring City; Kimberly Lobdell, age 38, of South Jordan; Charles J. Stuart III, age 51, of Mapleton; Rex E. Southwick, age 33, of Orange, Calif.; Thomas Myers, age 47, of Sandy; Enrique Hipolito-Ruiz, age 58, and Victor Francisco Hipolito-Martinez, age 35, both of Tijuana, Mexico; and Jorge Hipolito-Martinez, age 30, of Soler, Mexico.

Flores-Cuevas was arrested on a federal complaint in May and is in custody. Federal arrest warrants have been issued for the three other defendants from Mexico. Summons will be issued to the other defendants to appear in federal court for an initial appearance.

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