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HomeNewsArchives2 PLEAD GUILTY TO DRUG CHARGES, FORFEIT $5 MILLION

2 PLEAD GUILTY TO DRUG CHARGES, FORFEIT $5 MILLION

Jan. 30, 2003 – Two St. Thomas men have agreed to plead guilty to federal drug charges and to forfeit substantial property to avoid lengthy prison terms.
Salem Salem, 34, and Rushdi Salem, 36, were charged with various drug offenses in connection with the illegal sale and distribution of prescription narcotics and other prescription drugs, resulting from a federal drug sting in June of 2001.
As part of the plea agreement, the Salems have agreed to turn over an estimated $5 million in jewelry from their Main Street store, V.I. Pharmacy, Jewelry & Liquor, according to a release from U.S. Attorney David Nissman's office. The jewelry was purchased with laundered money garnered from the illegal drug sales.
Rushdi Salem, a licensed pharmacist, pled guilty to distributing Vicodin, Valium, Xanax, Tylenol with Codeine, Viagra and other drugs containing Hydrocodone without prescriptions.
The drugs were sold to local residents and cruise ship passengers and were shipped to fill mail orders to mainland locations including Georgia, Louisiana, New York and Utah.
Rushdi Salem also agreed to plead guilty to money laundering.
As part of the plea agreement, he also will forfeit his pharmacist license and his license to operate a pharmacy in the Virgin Islands or anywhere in the United States.
In exchange, the government has agreed to recommend at 37-month prison sentence. Conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance carries a maximum prison term of five years and a $250,000 fine, money laundering carries a 20-year prison term and a $500,000 fine, and dispensing prescription drugs without a prescription carries a three year maximum term and a $10,000 fine.
Salem Salem agreed to plead guilty to one count of distribution of a controlled substance. He was charge with distributing 1,457 tablets of Hydrocodone, or Vicodin, its trade name. If he complies with the forfeiture and all other terms of the plea bargain, the government will recommend a six-month sentence. The maximum sentence for distribution of a controlled substance is five years and a $250,000 fine.
The investigation which led to the arrests was carried out by the Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations and the U.S. Customs Service. Nissman commended the two agencies for their work. He also expressed appreciation to the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Postal Service for their assistance.
Sentencing is scheduled for April 14.

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