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December 6, 2016Houston, TX, United StatesIntellectual Property Rights and Commercial Fraud

2 men from California and Pennsylvania sentenced in Houston for trafficking counterfeit prescription drugs

HOUSTON — Two men were sentenced Tuesday to federal prison following their convictions for conspiring to traffic in counterfeit Viagra and Cialis, and introducing adulterated and misbranded prescription drugs into interstate commerce.

U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas, announced the sentencings. The joint investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA-OCI).

Martez Alando Gurley, 41, and Victor Lamar Coates, 47, admitted that they each trafficked more than 10,000 counterfeit tablets. On Dec. 6, U.S. District Judge David Hittner sentenced Gurley to 75 months in federal prison and ordered him to pay $410,508 in restitution to Pfizer Inc. and Eli Lilly and Company — the licensed patent trademark holders of Viagra and Cialis. Coates received a sentence of 46 months and must pay $314,565 in restitution. Each defendant must also serve three years of supervised release after they complete their prison terms.

Gurley was convicted of trafficking at least 12,960 counterfeit Viagra and Cialis tablets from his home in Napa, California.  Coates was convicted of trafficking at least 10,288 counterfeit Viagra and Cialis tablets from his home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Both defendants sold the counterfeit drugs to individuals in the Houston-area for further distribution to unsuspecting customers. Gurley and Coates illegally imported the counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs into the United States from sources in China.

Testing on samples of the counterfeit Viagra revealed the drugs contained less than the 100 mg of the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) listed on the labels; counterfeit Cialis revealed small quantities of the Viagra API and none of the Cialis API. In addition, some of the counterfeit Viagra tablets were found to contain the unrelated compound 2-MBT. The counterfeit Viagra and Cialis tablets looked like the authentic products and included labels and packaging that closely resembled the registered trademarks of Eli Lilly and Company, and Pfizer Inc.

In arriving at the sentences, Judge Hittner considered the fact that the illegally imported counterfeit drugs did not contain the correct medication indicated on the labelling and could cause harm to unsuspecting consumers of the pills.

Gurley was immediately taken into custody following the hearing pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.  Coates was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender at a later date.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Redlinger, Southen District of Texas, prosecuted this case.