A Utah County couple probably found it a hard pill to swallow when federal agents busted them for distributing fake Viagra and Cialis for a Hong Kong-based counterfeit drug operation.
On Monday federal prosecutors cut them a break, sparing them prison time, in exchange for helping them with their investigation, which lead to the bust of a Chinese dealer.
During a sentencing hearing, Douglas Carlton Hewitt and Angela Peterson Hewitt were both sentenced to three years probation. The young couple told the court they were sorry for receiving and distributing hundreds of tablets of fake and nearly identical versions of the two popular marital-enhancement drugs.
"We made a huge mistake," Douglas Hewitt told U.S. District Court Judge David Sam.
According to court documents, the Pleasant Grove couple were caught receiving shipments of hundreds of counterfeit drugs, sometimes thousands of tablets. The Hewitts were caught as part of a bigger international drug smuggling investigation.
After being caught in 2006, Douglas Hewitt told federal agents that he was recruited while searching Internet postings and comment boards. He came across a China contact who was looking for a U.S. "drop shipper" to receive the drugs and then re-package them to send to 10 "end users" in the United States. Tests revealed the tablets were counterfeit.
Hewitt said he and his wife were offered a 50-cent-per-tablet commission, which was wired to them via Western Union. Hewitt also told agents he knew that he and his wife had to be careful and covert since they knew the drugs were being sent out without a license or doctor's supervision. The couple took on the aliases of "Pam and David" for shipments.
In court Monday, Sam noted the couple's "substantial assistance" in helping the government bring others involved in the operation to justice.
Court records show that a combined undercover operation between U.S. and Chinese agents busted the counterfeit drug contact called only "Fu" at an airport hotel in Hong Kong on Sept. 21, 2006.
Angela Hewitt said nothing in court. Douglas Hewitt said he and his wife have learned their lesson and would not be back before a federal judge again.Outside of court, defense attorney Bradley Rich said the couple is young and innocent, but got caught up in something more than they bargained for.