Man Gets Probation for Internet Pharmacy
MIAMI (AP) _ A restaurant manager was placed on probation for two years on Thursday for shipping packages of prescription drugs sold by an illegal Internet pharmacy launched by his mother.
John Gorman had been convicted along with his mother, his brother and a Webmaster for $1.3 million in sales generated by two Internet sites, younglifestyle.com and genericlifestyle.com. The business was shut down in May 2001 after less than a year.
Betty Gorman organized the business, which repackaged wholesale prescriptions obtained with a fake license in her suburban Pembroke Pines bedroom. She, another son, James and Webmaster Kenneth Dodd face prison at sentencing July 25.
John Gorman delivered orders to the post office, bought $13,700 worth of shipping supplies and knew the packages contained prescription drugs. He was convicted of misdemeanors, but the jury found the others guilty of felonies in April.
U.S. District Judge Adalberto Jordan asked prosecutors how much of a financial loss was caused by the illegal pharmacy _ to customers, the government and legitimate pharmacies.
The dollar figure will drive sentencing for the others. It could mean the difference between as little as six months behind bars and a nine-year prison term.
Prosecutors concede the customers lost nothing because they received legitimate U.S.-made drugs, but they want the judge to base the sentences on the estimated profit of $887,000. The U.S. drug supplier was given a license indicating Betty Gorman was a broker in the Cayman Islands, where she used to live.
The nation’s courts are split on how to address the financial issue at sentencing as problems with Internet pharmacies proliferate in Food and Drug Administration prosecutions.
``The FDA cases are so unique,″ said Assistant U.S. Attorney Bertha Mitrani. ``This seems to be a fairly new area of the law.″
Legitimate Internet pharmacies display a seal indicating they meet state licensing requirements, and the FDA has issued a brochure to tell consumers what to look for when shopping for medication online.
An FDA study in 2000 found up to 400 Internet pharmacies _ evenly split between domestic and foreign locations.
At a House hearing last month, a congressman said the Miami international mail center receives up to 7 million packages of drugs a year, a flow that has increased sharply in recent years as a growing number of people order pharmaceuticals by mail.
On the Net:
FDA consumer safety guide: http://www.fda.gov/cder/drug/consumer/buyonline/guide