Winnipeg-based Internet pharmacy pioneer facing charges in US will have to make plea over the border
Kris Thorkelson will have to make a personal appearance in a U.S. court this spring
Internet pharmacist Kris Thorkelson will have to make a personal appearance in a U.S. court this spring to plead guilty and be sentenced in a case involving the alleged sale of counterfeit cancer drugs, court documents show.
Federal prosecutors in the U.S. have accused Thorkelson, CanadaDrugs.com, and affiliated companies and associates in Canada, the United Kingdom and Barbados of illegally importing and selling $78 million worth of unapproved new drugs, misbranded drugs and counterfeit drugs to American doctors between 2009 and 2012.
However, the lawyers for both sides have reached a tentative plea agreement that would see Canada Drugs and two subsidiaries plead guilty, pay a $5 million US fine and forfeit $29 million US.
Thorkelson would have to pay a $250,000 fine and serve six months of house arrest followed by four-and-a-half years of probation. He would be responsible for covering the costs of supervising and monitoring his sentence.
The deals would also require the company to surrender its domain names, hand over all information and permanently stop selling and distributing unapproved or misbranded drugs in the U.S.
The defendants also can't share or sell any information on American customers to any other pharmacy or third party outside of the US.
In a meeting Dec. 19, defence lawyers told the judge their clients wanted to expedite the proceedings. Documents filed Dec. 22 show a date of Apr. 13, 2018 has been set in U.S. district court in Montana. Thorkelson will have to make a personal appearance to enter his plea and be sentenced.
The plea agreement still has to be approved by the court. If the court rejects it, the defendants will be able to withdraw their guilty pleas.
Four Winnipeg men were also charged along with Thorkelson: CanadaDrugs.com CFO Ronald Sigurdson; Thomas Haughton, president of two CanadaDrugs subsidiaries operating in Barbados and the U.K.; Darren Chalus, director of clinical sales for CanadaDrugs; and Troy Nakamura, clinical manager for CanadaDrugs.
James Trueman of British Columbia, is accused of serving as a liaison between CanadaDrugs and affiliates in Illinois and Washington state.
Extradition hearings for all six men have been set for May 2018.
A spokesperson for the federal Justice department can't say yet how the plea agreement could affect those proceedings.
The College of Pharmacists of Manitoba had initially suspended Thorkelson's pharmacist licence when news of the tentative plea agreement became public, however it reinstated the licence less than a week later.
It has not provided any reason for the initial suspension nor the reversal of that sanction.