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Iowa businessman sentenced for selling fake Viagra

Thu, 02/09/2012 - 12:50pm
RYAN J. FOLEY - Associated Press - Associated Press

An Iowa insurance agent who started a side business selling unapproved erectile dysfunction pills from India will serve two months behind bars and forfeit $23,000 in profits, prosecutors announced Thursday.

Sioux City resident David Kempema's sentence, given by U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett on Tuesday, was several months shorter than prosecutors sought and federal guidelines recommended. Kempema, 51, pleaded guilty in November to one count of trafficking misbranded drugs with intent to defraud under a deal with prosecutors.

Court records show Kempema purchased two types of erectile dysfunction pills from India that had not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and marketed them on the Internet as Viagra and Cialis between 2009 and 2011. Prosecutors said he shipped the drugs using a fake return address from Costa Rica to cover up his involvement, and resumed selling the pills weeks after federal agents raided his business in 2010.

Kempema acknowledged selling more than 3,700 pills to 95 customers and agreed to forfeit $23,000, which is expected to go to drugmakers Pfizer Inc. and Eli Lilly and Co. and three customers.

Kempema operates DJK Financial Services, and his Iowa license to sell insurance and annuities has been revoked, his lawyer Douglas Roehrich said in a court filing. He started selling pills for extra income and initially believed the sales were legal since he purchased the pills online using his credit card and advertised them in public, Roehrich said.

In asking for a reduced sentence, Roehrich argued that if Kempema stopped selling pills after the 2010 raid, he might not have been charged. Plus, he said, Kempema had cooperated with prosecutors since.

Prosecutors said in court documents that Kempema's customers did not report physical harm from the pills — Vipogra-100 and V-Tada 20 — even though he did not ship them with directions for use and did not have a medical background. In asking for a prison sentence of 10 to 16 months, prosecutors said he misled customers and caused them to take medicine they normally wouldn't have purchased.

"The public must have confidence that prescription drugs are properly distributed and dispensed," Patrick Holland, a special agent with the FDA in Kansas City, said in a statement.

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