Justice Department Announces Five Indicted By Grand Jury In California
WASHINGTON (AP) _ A physician and four other California residents were indicted for allegedly conspiring to funnel millions of dollars in steroids onto a nationwide black market for the body-building drugs, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.
A 32-count federal grand jury indictment unsealed in San Jose, Calif., accused the five of operating a clandestine drug distribution and manufacturing mail-order business in steriods, which are bought by weightlifters, football players and other athletes.
The prescription drugs are male hormones and chemical derivatives which build muscles, but which can have as side effects cancer of the liver and which can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and sterility.
Dr. John Perzik of Milpitas and Steven Coons of Santa Clara ordered $765,000 in prescription drugs from pharmaceutical companies in 1985 and moved them to locations not registered to the state of California in order to conceal the illegal distribution from the federal government, said the indictment.
Coons and another defendant, Jeffrey Feliciano of Fountain Valley, promoted the drugs through promotional literature as East German drugs, when in fact Feliciano manufactured some of them in a clandestine laboratory in Fountain Valley, the indictment alleged. Coons paid $860,000 for the steroids manufactured by Feliciano, prosecutors said.
The prescription drugs were allegedly distributed in packages falsely represented to contain food supplements, said the indictment obtained by U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello. Copies of the indictment were released by the Justice Department in Washington.
In 1985 and 1986, Coons and his wife, Caroline, who also was indicted, deposited $1.6 million in their bank accounts from the mail order drug distribution business, which began operating in 1983, the government charged.
Perzik, Coons, Mrs. Coons, Feliciano and Charles L. Silcox of Santa Clara were accused of conspiring to conduct a clandestine prescription drug distribution and manufacturing business. Steven Coons and Feliciano were charged with eight counts of mail fraud. All five were charged with 23 counts of violating the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
The conspiracy and mail fraud counts each carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Violations of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act carry maximum penalties of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The Justice Department and the Food and Drug Administration have been investigating the nationwide black market in steroids since 1985, resulting in prosecutions of 59 people. Seven people have been sentenced to prison and fines of $1 million have been imposed.