Minn. man convicted in pharmacy case
| November 22, 2006
MINNEAPOLIS --A 26-year-old man was convicted Wednesday of running an online pharmacy that prosecutors described as a multimillion-dollar empire that dispensed prescription medication to drug addicts.
Christopher William Smith, of Prior Lake, faces a minimum 20-year prison sentence, according to his attorney. Midway through the clerk's reading of nine guilty verdicts, Smith hurried out a side door and vomited.
The same jury acquitted Smith's accountant, Bruce Lieberman, and the pharmacy's attorney, Daniel Adkins, who had faced many of the same charges.
Smith and his allies "jeopardized the health and well-being of people around the world," U.S. Attorney Rachel K. Paulose said in a statement. "This office and our law enforcement partners will aggressively prosecute illegal attempts to manipulate the power of the Internet."
Smith's attorneys said he believed that the operation was legal and went to great lengths to ensure the pharmacy followed the law.
The indictment alleged that a New Jersey doctor contracted with Smith's Xpress Pharmacy Direct to provide prescriptions for patients he never examined. The indictment focused on sales of hydrocodone, an addictive painkiller sold as Vicodin and other brand names.
Prosecutors said that Smith and the others knew they were breaking the law and that they cared more about getting paid than whether their customers really needed the drugs. Authorities shut the pharmacy down in May 2005 and alleged that it had generated more than $20 million in illegal sales since March 2004.
Smith's attorney, Joe Friedberg, said the defense has not decided whether to appeal. A sentencing date has not been set.
Smith has also been charged with witness tampering on suspicion of conspiring to kill one of the trial witnesses. Friedberg said he expects prosecutors to proceed with that case.