Louisville, Ky. (STL.News) – A Houston, Texas, man, has been sentenced to 27 months in federal prison followed by 2 years of supervised release by United States District Judge David J. Hale for two counts of introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce and one count of using a fictitious name to conduct an unlawful business.
Dhaval Jerambhai Dholaria, 39, of Houston, Texas, pleaded guilty to two counts of introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce and one count of using a fictitious name to conduct an unlawful business in August of 2019. Dholaria was originally indicted on June 7, 2017.
“Put the families of our district at risk through your greed, as in this case, and expect to reside in federal prison” said U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman.
“Distributing foreign prescription drugs of unknown origin and ingredients instead of FDA-approved drugs places the U.S. public health at risk,” said Mark S. McCormack, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, Metro Washington Field Office. “We will aggressively pursue and bring to justice those who attempt to subvert FDA requirements, which are designed to ensure the safety and quality of drugs distributed to American consumers.”
According to the plea agreement, from March 19, 2016, to March 23, 2016, Mr. Dholaria illegally shipped zolpidem tartrate (Ambien), a Schedule IV controlled substance used for sleep problems, from a location in Texas to a P.O. Box in Oldham County, Kentucky. The medication he shipped was misbranded, in that it was dispensed without a prescription and its labeling did not contain required directions for use. He shipped this medication with the intent to defraud and mislead, by avoiding the FDA requirements for prescription drugs.
To accomplish his introduction of misbranded drugs into interstate commerce, Dholaria used a stamps.com shipping account registered in the name of “Sam H,” a false name he used for the purpose of conducting his unlawful business by means of the Postal Service.
During the course of the investigation, federal agents seized over thirty (30) packages of prescription pills sent to Dholaria from India. Those packages contained approximately: 52,000 tramadol pills (a Schedule IV opioid), 2,300 diazepam pills (a Schedule IV anti-anxiety medication, also known as Valium), 2,200 zolpidem tartrate pills, 1,200 clonazepam pills (a Schedule IV anti-anxiety medication, also known as Klonopin), and 1,500 carisoprodol pills (a Schedule IV muscle relaxant, also known as Soma). Agents also seized nearly thirty (30) packages containing nearly 5,000 prescription pills of various types that agents witnessed Dholaria placing in the mail for delivery to United States residents. Based on shipping records it appears that Dholaria shipped tens of thousands of prescription pills throughout the United States before he was caught.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys David Weiser and Madison Sewell, and was investigated by the Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations, the United States Postal Service, and Homeland Security Investigations.