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Indian couple indicted on drug charges

world Updated: Aug 05, 2011 11:34 IST

An Indian-American, who owned three weight loss clinics, and his wife have been indicted here for illegally dispensing amphetamine-based drugs to patients, engaging in illegal monetary transactions and tax fraud of nearly $750,000.

Rakesh Anand and Meena Anand were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy to distribute controlled drugs, illegally structuring monetary transactions, money laundering, conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service and tax fraud, US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Patrick J Fitzgerald announced on Thursday.

Rakesh, 55, and Meena, 51, both residents of Tinley Park, a suburb of Chicago, will be arraigned at a date still to be determined in Federal Court in Hammond.

According to a statement released Fitzgerald's office, Rakesh was charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, six counts of distributing controlled substances, 20 counts of illegally structuring monetary transactions to avoid currency transaction reports, three counts of money laundering, one count of conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service, and four counts of tax fraud.

Meena, who assisted her husband in operating the centers and managed the locations in Lansing and Orland Park, faces all of the same charges except the six counts of distributing controlled substances.

The indictment also seeks forfeiture of approximately $6.3 million, including more than $3.6 million that has been frozen by the government in numerous bank and brokerage accounts, as well as more than $700,000 in cash that was seized from the Anands' home in May 2010.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the Food and Drug Administration and the Indiana State Police.

The tax charges allege that Anands substantially under-reported their income on their federal income tax returns for 2005-2008 and, as a result, failed to pay approximately $745,280 in taxes owed to the IRS.

Between 2002 and February 2010, the drug distribution and conspiracy charges allege that the Anands illegally dispensed amphetamine-based Phendimetrazine and Phentermine to patients without a physician performing a physical examination or any medical tests, and without reviewing patients' records, obtaining a thorough medical history.

The couple allegedly offered discounts to patients who purchased two or three months supply of the pills with cash or a credit card.

The charges against the couple carry maximum penalties of five to 10 years in prison if they are convicted.