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Spammer indicted on illegal pharmacy charges

A Minnesota man was indicted on more than a dozen federal charges related to the operation of his business, Xpress Pharmacy Direct.

tech reviews Updated: Aug 25, 2005 14:54 IST

A Minnesota man considered one of the world's most prolific e-mail spammers was indicted on more than a dozen federal charges related to the operation of his business, Xpress Pharmacy Direct.

The indictment against Christopher William Smith, 25, was unsealed on Wednesday after he was arrested at his home in Prior Lake. Dr Philip Mach, 47, of Franklin Park, New Jersey, and Bruce Jordan Lieberman, 45, from Farmingdale, New York, were also charged in the indictment, federal prosecutors said.

The grand jury alleged that Smith provided prescription drugs without making sure customers had a valid prescription. The orders were obtained through spam e-mails, Internet sites and telemarketing.

The indictment contains various counts of conspiracy to dispense controlled substances, wire fraud, money laundering, distributing controlled substances and introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce.

Xpress Pharmacy generated millions of dollars. The indictment claims that from March 2004 to May 2005 the operation generated sales of more than $20 million from medications containing a single addictive painkiller, hydrocodne.

Smith appeared on Wednesday before US Magistrate Judge Janie Mayeron, who ordered him held without bond. An arraignment and detention hearing was scheduled for Friday.

Smith's attorney, Joe Friedberg, did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.

The Spamhaus Project, an international anti-spam organisation based in the United Kingdom, considered Smith one of the world's worst offenders.

In May, a federal judge shut down Xpress Pharmacy and appointed a receiver to take control of the business' assets. Federal authorities seized $1.8 million (euro1.47 million) in luxury cars, two homes and $1.3 million (euro1.06 million) in cash. Prosecutors allege Smith had Mach issue about 72,000 prescriptions from July 2004 to about May 2005.

Mach is registered to practice medicine in New Jersey, but allegedly wrote prescriptions for patients throughout the United States and without having any contact with patients or with their primary care doctors. The US Attorney's Office said Mach was represented by Bruce Levy of New Jersey. A call to his office was not immediately returned on Wednesday.

Lieberman, Smith's former accountant, was accused of helping Smith hide the origin of money earned from the prescription drug business. Lieberman also allegedly helped Smith process credit cards.

Marvin Zevin, Lieberman's attorney, declined to comment until his client had made his first court appearance.

First Published: Aug 25, 2005 14:54 IST