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Cresskill-Closter Daily Voice serves Closter, Cresskill & Demarest

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Closter couple who tried selling $25 million in counterfeit medications sentenced

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

CLIFFVIEW PILOT HAS IT FIRST: A husband and wife from Closter avoided prison time today for selling the equivalent of $2.5 million worth of counterfeit Viagra, Cialis, Lexapro and other pharmaceuticals made in India to customers here.

Nita Patel, 47, was sentenced to 9 months of home confinement and 2 years’ probation. Her husband, 53-year-old Hardad Patel, as sentenced to 2 years’ probation.

The tablets they sold, which in some cases were designed to look like the genuine articles, weren’t tested or approved by the FDA for distribution in the United States and had no safety warnings on their labels, authorities said.

Nita Patel and her husband, an Indian national, admitted illegally distributing unlicensed pharmaceuticals, for which a co-consiprator, 31-year-old Moloy Ghosh of India, was sentenced to eight months in federal prison in March.

All three were arrested and charged on April 2, 2010.

An undercover law enforcement officer got hold of Nita Patel, who was selling his “generic” forms of patented pharmaceuticals products online, and received a price list, federal authorities said.

For the next several months, the Patels “negotiated with the undercover officer for the sale of more than 300,000 tablets of counterfeit drugs,” including the erectile dysfunction drugs, as well as counterfeit versions of Abilify (used for treating schizophrenia and bipolar disorder), Lexapro (used for treating depression), and Plavix (an anti-coagulant), Fishman said.

All of the counterfeit drugs were shipped from Ghosh’s business in India, where he lived and worked before coming to the U.S. on a business visa April 2, 2010 – the day before all three were arrested.

Like Patel, Ghosh tried using a Customs Declaration with a bogus name to try and slip by authorities, Fishman said.

Fishman credited special agents of the FBI in Newark with making the case, handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jacob T. Elberg of his Health Care and Government Fraud Unit and Amy Luria of the Office’s General Crimes Unit.

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