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Contraband
07/06/2011

Canadian doctor pleads guilty to providing treatment with unapproved drugs

Doctor provided medical treatments to professional athletes in the NFL and MLB

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A Canadian doctor has pleaded guilty to a felony charge of introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce for the purpose of treating professional athletes. The drugs included human growth hormone (HGH) and Actovegin, a derivative of calf's blood. The charge stems from an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Dr. Anthony Galea, 51, of Toronto, Canada, entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara, and faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and forfeiture of $275,000.

Galea admitted traveling to the United States numerous times from 2007 through September 2009, in order to provide medical treatments to professional athletes, including players in the National Football League (NFL) and Major League Baseball (MLB). Galea, who is not licensed to practice medicine in the United States, admitted traveling to 13 locations, including New York City, Miami, Washington, D.C., and Boston, to administer four different kinds of treatments. One type of treatment involved injecting athletes with a mixture containing HGH, while a second type of treatment involved injections of Actovegin.

Federal law requires that drugs intended for human consumption, such as prescription medicines, must be approved by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration (FDA). HGH is not approved by the FDA as a treatment for sports injuries and is banned by most professional sports leagues, including the NFL and MLB. Actovegin is not approved for any use in humans.

Also participating in this ICE HSI investigation were the FBI; FDA, Office of Criminal Investigations; and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

"This office, along with our law enforcement partners, will not tolerate attempts to breach the integrity of our nation's borders, or to subvert the border inspection process," said U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr., Western District of New York. "We also stand committed to protecting the health and well-being of our citizens by enforcing regulations which identify the type of substances which may be safely injected into the human body. Here, the defendant admitted to not only bringing unapproved substances into the country repeatedly, but that he also practiced medicine without a license, supervised criminal conduct of others and obstructed justice through the actions of one of the defendant's Canadian employees. This case should therefore serve as a warning to all that such conduct will be prosecuted."

"A key component of ICE's border security mission is to stop the flow of illegal, misbranded and unapproved drugs into the United States," said Lev J. Kubiak, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Buffalo. "ICE has worked closely with our FBI, FDA and CBP partners, as well as Canadian law enforcement partners to include the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, in this important effort to protect the health and safety of the American public."

"This case began with the excellent work by CBP officers in the Port of Buffalo," said Joseph J. Wilson, CBP's Buffalo port director. "It is also an excellent example of several federal law enforcement agencies working cohesively together toward bringing a case to a successful conclusion."

On June 24, 2010, Mary Anne Catalano, an employee of the defendant in Canada, pleaded guilty before Judge Arcara to making false statements at the border. Catalano is awaiting sentencing in this case.

Judge Arcara scheduled sentencing for Oct. 19, 2011 at 12:30 p.m. Galea was released pending sentencing.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul J. Campana and Mary Clare Kane.

Previous releases:

May 18, 2010: Criminal complaint filed against Canadian doctor

Oct. 14, 2010: Canadian doctor indicted for smuggling and treating professional athletes with human growth hormones