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March 16, 2022
Five men have been charged in a bodybuilding drug-smuggling scheme including Michigan bodybuilder Joshua Ford. The U.S. Department of Justice arraigned each person involved in the crimes with sentences ranging from 5-20 years plus penalties of $250,000-$500,000.
The men were selling the bodybuilding-related drugs via websites www.expresspct.com and www.expresspeds.ws to customers without prescriptions and controlled substances.
Joshua Ford of Troy, Michigan; Brendon Gagne of Fountain, Colorado; James Funaro of Atlanta, Georgia; Jeremy Walenty of Tampa, Florida; and Taylor McLaren of Colorado Springs, Colorado were charged with conspiracy to smuggle drugs into the U.S. and distribute them. Gagne and Funaro are also charged with money laundering conspiracy.
The websites that the men were operating didn’t ask customers for prescriptions even though many of the substances sold require a valid prescription for a licensed doctor. Besides the selling and smuggling of drugs, two men also face money laundering charges.
The defendants received cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin and the DOJ says that $12 million was paid out through platforms such as CashApp and Zelle. The websites had been operating since 2018 and were advertising drugs that were separated by four categories based on the shipping destination.
Governmental agencies have since seized the websites along with luxury vehicles that Gagne had purchased allegedly using the funds from the smuggling scheme.
If convicted of drug smuggling conspiracy, the defendants face a statutory maximum of 5 years in prison plus fines up to $250,000. At the same time, Gagne and Funaro could face up to 20 years in prison plus a fine of up to $500,000 or twice the value of the funds laundered if they’re convicted of a money laundering charge.
Most of the drugs being sold were used to treat the side effects of steroid usage and anabolic steroids. The drugs were shipped under false claims and labels to the end customers who purchased them. All five defendants will be arraigned in the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Michigan on March 21st, 2022.
This is just an indictment, so the defendants still have to be proven guilty before sentencing, but it seems like the government has plenty of evidence to back up their claims.
This is just another episode in the shady business of selling supplements online. Not too long ago, Aaron Singerman, Redcon1 founder and PJ Braun of Blackstone Labs, were sentenced to prison for similar criminal activity in the supplement world. Always be careful in what you’re buying online and who you’re buying it from!
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