In this August 13th News Release from the US Attorney of the Western District of Missouri, seven Pulaski County residents were accused of participating in "a $3.4 million conspiracy to distribute prescription drugs through Internet pharmacy Web sites."
While the indictment is still sealed, we do have some initial facts. Those charged are:
Anthony D. Holman, 33
Arcelia Holman, 41 (Anthony's wife)
Clifton Thibodeaux, 33 (Arcelia's brother)
Yvonna Bays, 46
Marvin Eugene Nelson, 60
Mark E. Fitzgerald, 36
Nance R. Fitzgerald, 37 (Mark's wife)
The seven are accused of participating in a conspiracy to distribute prescription drugs, including hydrocodone, alprazolam, and zolpidem, by using fraudulent prescriptions obtained through websites they operated.
Additional charges for aiding and abetting the distribution of hydrocodone are also leveled at the seven, while the Holmans are also charged with money laundering.
If convicted, they will forfeit $3.4 million, as well as vehicles.
The Holman's corporation was PersonalizedRx, LLC.
The online pharmacy criminals refer to these services as "OCS's" or "Online Consultation Services". They are convinced that having an email-based consultation with a pharmacist is a legitimate substitute for medical consultation before dispatching a prescription for controlled substances.
Using public WHOIS records, we were able to confirm that Anthony Holman was the owner of "personalizedrx.com", creating the domain on February 1, 2005, using the email address "email@example.com" and listing a street address in Delcambre, Louisiana.
"edayne" is an email address that belonged to Arcelia Holman, who used that address in posts for her genealogy research on the Sharbeno family history.
Back in August 2005, someone started a thread on "PharmacyWatchers.com" warning about using PersonalizedRX.com. A member of that forum rose to their defense with this posting:
I have used this ocs several times and had 1 problem. It was something about a personal problem with the dr. The 1st dr they used when they 1st opened almost took them down, but they have changed and are using dr.p. She is very nice and had always rxd me 120 with 2 rf's. Im sry you had this experiance, it really doesent sound like them. I will call and find out whats up. Ira and Arcelia are always willing to talk to you. They are very hands on. I have spent a long time on the phone with them just chatting. Mabe they will come and let us know whats up.
Anthony Holman filed for bankruptcy in 2004 in St. Louis, but apparently has done a lot of catching up since then.
Arcelia and Anthony actually had these charges brought against them in Civil procedings back on October 4, 2007. In that case, the prosecutor for the US Attorney's office, Cynthia Hyde, filed a default judgment against Arcelia Holman, and included the proof of notice sent to Arcelia in Zwolle, Louisiana. The items listed for Forfeiture were:
A bank account containing $403,930.36
Another bank account containing $2,979.53
A Cashier's Check for $10,000
A 2001 BMW X5
A 1978 Chevrolet Corvette
A 2001 Toyota 4 Runner.
These items were seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration on April 27, 2007. The DEA had begun an investigation targeting the Holmans on November 17, 2006. During the course of the investigation, a wiretap revealed that they were planning to flee the state of Missouri.
After being picked up in a routine traffic stop and brought in for questioning, the Holmans admitted that the items above were proceeds or bought with proceeds from their operation of the following websites:
(registered to: Anthony Holman, 900 W Fran St. Apt 7, Delcambre, LA firstname.lastname@example.org)
(registered to: Partners Medicine Place LLC Waynesville, MO, email@example.com)
(registered to: Gene Nelson, PO Box 485 Waynesville, MO, firstname.lastname@example.org)
www.comfortscripts.com (Privacy Protection used to register in July 2007)
www.5starfreedom.net (Domains by Proxy used to register in November 2006)
Archives of most of these websites can still be seen via "archive.org"'s WayBack Machine. The Medicine Place, for example, clearly states:
"All medications dispensed by a licensed & regulated pharmacy"
and "The Medicine Place on call Doctors will conduct their consultation.
Prescriptions can be made available WITHIN 24 HOURS Consultation Fees are $100."
I like the Announcements section: "We no longer ship to Nevada, Tennessee and Kentucky". Hmmmm... I wonder why?
According to these earlier court records, here is how the set up functioned:
From at least 2006, the Holman organization has advertised, offered to sell, and sold controlled substances and prescriptive drugs from these Internet pharmacy websites, or previous versions of these Internet pharmacy websites, to consumers. The Holman organization does not require consumers to have a prescription before ordering the controlled substances and non-controlled prescription drugs from the websites. Once a consumer has located the Internet pharmacy website, they follow the website directions and usually begin by filling out a “medical history questionnaire.” After electronically transmitting the “medical history questionnaire,” the consumer will then usually fax medical records when requested, and pay for an “initial consultation,” usually via a credit card, or cash on delivery (C.O.D.). The identity of the consumer, the medical information in the questionnaire, and medical records are not verified. The consumer is instructed to call a number to set up a “consultation,” or they are told that they (consumer) will be called for a “consultation.” During the so-called “consultation,” a person (usually a U.S. based physician assistant) will sometimes review the questionnaire submitted to the Internet pharmacy website with the consumer over the telephone. The person reviewing the information with the consumer usually identifies themselves as a physician assistant, or does not identify themselves at all. Once it is determined what controlled substance/painkiller (usually hydrocodone) the consumer wants to order, the physician assistant (or person conducting the consultation) will “recommend” a prescription to be issued in the name of the consumer for the chosen controlled substance.
The recommendation, along with consumer information, is then (allegedly) “forwarded” to a physician with an active and valid DEA Registration Number that works for the Internet pharmacy website operation. The physician will then “review” the
consumer information along with the recommendation by the physician assistant. The doctor then authorizes a prescription under his/her DEA Registration number and forwards the authorization to the Internet pharmacy website operation center (Holmans).
When the operation center receives the prescription from the physician, the prescription is forwarded (usually by fax) to a U.S. based pharmacy. When the prescription is received by the pharmacy, the prescription is filled in the consumer’s name and the controlled substance is then shipped to the consumer. The pharmacy filling and shipping the prescription will then charge an additional amount to the consumer, allegedly to cover the cost of the controlled substances and shipping.
The Holman organization has agreements with several pharmacies located all over the
United States to fill the prescriptions. After the pharmacies fill the prescriptions, they ship the controlled substances to the consumer via FedEx, UPS or DHL. The Holman organization, through its Internet pharmacy businesses, pays for the shipping costs, reimburses the pharmacies for the cost of the drugs, and pays the pharmacies a fulfillment fee of approximately $16 for each prescription they fill. The Holman organization charges the consumer for the drugs and a consultation fee of approximately $100 to $120, from which they pay the physicians approximately $50. This entire scheme has evolved over time in an effort to subvert state and federal regulations governing the safe dispensation of pharmaceutical drugs, and allows the
consumer to obtain potentially harmful, addictive, prescription drugs (primarily controlled substances), for use without direct supervision of a responsible physician.
(From Case 6:07-cv-03355-DW Document 1, Filed 10/04/2007, pages 5&6)
Let this be a warning to all of the affiliates who believe they can get rich selling drugs illegally. The website owners and their affiliates are going to be rounded up and sent to jail.
It is against the law to sell drugs where an "online consultation" has been used to get the prescription. Hopefully this case will settle that matter once and for all.