Former Kentucky Attorney Sentenced to One Year of Probation for Conspiracy to Defraud the Food and Drug Administration

Source: US Food and Drug Administration

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Pennsylvania

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, July 20, 2021

HARRISBURG – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Jonathan Clark Baird, age 45, of Louisville, Kentucky, was sentenced on July 19, 2021, to one year of probation by Chief United States District Court Judge John E. Jones, III, for conspiracy to defraud the Food and Drug Administration.

According to Acting United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, Baird was an attorney licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Kentucky focusing on steroid and nutritional supplements law. Baird conspired with two Internet-based businesses, Total Trading LLC and L and P, LLC, from December 2011 to on or about December 2014, to defraud the United States. In particular, Baird agreed to use his knowledge of steroid laws, nutritional supplement laws and the FDA’s regulatory and enforcement practices to instruct these companies on the methods to use to interfere and obstruct the United States Food and Drug Administration enforcement and regulatory oversight, including instructing his co-conspirators on the steps to be taken to fraudulently conceal the true nature of their illegal sale of prescription drugs from the FDA.

Baird’s coconspirators, Paul Leix and co-defendant, Dominic Pileggi, were involved in a business, L&P Trading, which used the internet to market and distribute peptides (a type of amino acid), along with other bodybuilding chemicals, to individuals seeking to enhance their physiques. Leix and Pileggi marketed these products on their website while providing a disclaimer that the substances were not for human consumption and use (for research purposes only). Customers who visited the website seeking these products for bodybuilding purposes would falsely attest that they were buying the chemicals for research purposes. By marketing the products to the online bodybuilding community, Leix and Pileggi knew that purchasers would use the products for personal consumption rather than research. The “research only” disclaimer was a ruse to circumvent the regulatory authority of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). L&P Trading advertised on body-building billboards and sites and Leix and Pileggi were not properly licensed or had the required approvals to manufacture, sell or prescribe these products.  Leix and Pileggi also sold these drugs and their chemical components to other illegal distributors and manufacturers, including Total Trading, LLC, a company owned and operated by co- conspirator Thomas Keightly, located in Lebanon County. Keightly, in turn, sold directly to end users in the same manner as Leix and Pileggi.

Paul Leix was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment and Thomas Keightly was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment for conspiracy to commit money laundering and delivery of altered or misbranded drugs by fraud. Pileggi was sentenced to time-served for conspiracy to commit money laundering and introduction of misbranded drugs into interstate commerce.

“Selling unapproved prescription drugs in the U.S. marketplace is illegal and puts consumers’ health at risk,” said Special Agent in Charge Mark S. McCormack, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Metro Washington Field Office. “We remain fully committed to disrupting and dismantling illegal drug distribution networks that take steps to avoid FDA regulatory scrutiny at the expense of public health and safety.”

The cases were investigated by the Food and Drug Administration and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.  Assistant United States Attorney Joseph Terz prosecuted the cases.

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Component(s):
USAO – Pennsylvania, Middle