Home San Francisco Press Releases 2010 Defendant Pleads Guilty in Connection with Multi-Agency Pharmacy Investigation Online Pharmacy Owner Targeted...

Defendant Pleads Guilty in Connection with Multi-Agency Pharmacy Investigation Online Pharmacy Owner Targeted for Illegally Distributing Drugs

U.S. Attorney’s Office November 05, 2010
  • Northern District of California (415) 436-7200

SAN FRANCISCO—The owner of an illegal Internet pharmacy yesterday pleaded guilty to distributing controlled substances outside the scope of professional medical practice, United States Attorney Melinda Haag and Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Anthony D. Williams announced.

Robert Smoley, the owner of United Mail Pharmacy Services, pleaded guilty before United States District Court Judge Jeffrey White, admitting that between 2001 and February 2008, he and others distributed in excess of $48 million worth of controlled pharmaceutical substances. Smoley admitted that these distributions were done outside the scope of professional medical practice without a legitimate medical purpose. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute schedule III and IV controlled substances, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, and conspiracy to launder money, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1956(h).

“By illegally selling controlled pharmaceutical substances, Mr. Smoley demonstrated his disregard for the health, safety and well being of his customers as well as the law,” U.S. Attorney Haag said. “My office takes crimes like this seriously and will continue to work with our brothers and sisters in law enforcement to bring individuals such as this to justice.”

“The Smoley drug trafficking organization fed the habits of drug seekers while its members chose profits over the health and well-being of those customers. This guilty plea demonstrates how collaborative law enforcement efforts can dismantle significant drug trafficking organizations. DEA and its law enforcement partners will aggressively pursue those who facilitate the diversion of pharmaceutical drugs,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Anthony D. Williams.

“IRS Criminal Investigation follows the money to dismantle the financial backbone of illegal organizations and to seize the profits of their illegal activities,” said Daniel W. Auer, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division. “Through cooperative law enforcement efforts such as this one, we will hold accountable those individuals who commit crimes against our society and our economy.”

The sentencing of Smoley is scheduled for Feb. 10, 2011, before Judge White in San Francisco. The maximum statutory penalty for each count of conspiring to distribute controlled substances, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 is five years and a fine of $250,000, or twice the value of the property involved in the offense, whichever is greater; and for each count of conspiring to launder monetary instruments, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h), is 20 years and a fine of $500,000, or twice the value of the property involved in the offense, whichever is greater. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Kirstin Ault is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Michelle Alter and Erica Doerr. The prosecution is the result of an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation involving the coordinated efforts of multiple federal and state law enforcement agencies, as well as foreign authorities from several jurisdictions. The law enforcement agencies include the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations, the Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Boards of Pharmacy from North Carolina, Florida, Kansas, Colorado, Connecticut, and Louisiana. Significant additional assistance was provided by authorities in Brazil and several other foreign countries.

Smoley’s plea agreement was obtained in connection with an international investigation of illegal Internet pharmacies that began in 2005. The investigation has resulted in the indictment of 37 federal defendants, the conviction of 27 individuals on federal criminal charges, and the dismantling of more than five Internet pharmacies that illegally distributed more than 80 million doses of controlled substances to users in the United States. As a result of the investigation, law enforcement agents have seized more than $40 million in cash and assets, including several high value homes and multiple luxury vehicles.

Further Information:             
Case #: CR 10-619 JSW