A Utah druggist has pleaded guilty in California to smuggling cheap Mexican pharmaceuticals into the United States to sell at his Park City pharmacy.
Clifford Earl Holt, 36, was indicted by a federal grand jury in San Diego after two family members were caught at a border crossing in January with 19,000 pills.
Holt appeared in U.S. District Court in San Diego on Monday to plead to the sale of unapproved drugs. As part of the plea, he admitted that he intended to misrepresent the smuggled pharmaceuticals to his Park City customers as products approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration.
Holt is to appear before Judge Judith Keep for a Dec. 7 sentencing on the conviction, which carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing assisted in the federal investigation, but the state agency has yet to take action against Holt or his business, Park City Pharmacy.
Holt admitted he directed his sister and brother-in-law to buy pharmaceuticals in Mexico, where they are cheaper due to fewer regulations and prescription requirements.
For 2 1/2 years, the couple transported drugs.
On Jan. 17, Lynnette and Jefferson Scott of Oregon were entering California at the San Ysidro crossing north of Tijuana when their car was searched. In their luggage, a cache of pills worth $63,000 was found in plastic baggies, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Melanie Pierson.
An investigation by the FDA and U.S. Customs Service led to Holt. In court Monday, his lawyer said Holt engaged in the illicit importation on behalf of the pharmacy's owner, whom he identified as Terrance Frank.
However, DOPL records indicate Park City Pharmacy is owned by Holt and his wife, Pamela, according to agency spokesman Kim Morris.