United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Michael Gordon, 32, of Philadelphia, PA, was sentenced today by United States District Court Judge Paul S. Diamond to serve 20 years’ imprisonment, followed by three years’ supervised release, for conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The Court further ordered the defendant to pay over $2.7 million in restitution and to forfeit over $300,000.
From approximately December 2017 until October 2018, Gordon was involved in a sophisticated scheme to obtain counterfeit Xanax on the dark web in order to sell the counterfeit pills for a profit. He took numerous steps to conceal his illegal activity: for example, he coordinated the mailing of packages in covert ways, having them addressed to fictitious recipients and mailed to a variety of locations Gordon himself controlled in an attempt to thwart any investigative efforts. Additionally, he paid for the counterfeit pills using Bitcoin, re-sold the counterfeit pills for a profit, and then laundered the proceeds of his illicit drug business in order to conceal the true nature of the funds obtained from the scheme. Before he was stopped by law enforcement, the defendant illegally obtained hundreds of thousands of these highly addictive pills and re-distributed them. He pleaded guilty to the charges in June 2019.
“Simply put, Gordon placed the well-being of others at risk in order to satisfy his own greed,” said U.S Attorney McSwain. “Xanax can be highly addictive under normal circumstances, but the counterfeit version of Xanax can be even more addictive and potentially deadly. Gordon did not think twice about this danger, as he was focused solely on how to profit from the misery of others. He is now in prison, where he belongs.”
“Abuse of benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, is a critical issue for a greater Philadelphia-area that is already experiencing an opioid abuse epidemic. Add in the trafficking of counterfeit prescription drugs made of unknown substances from China and, now, we have significantly increased the risk to vulnerable consumers,” said William S. Walker, acting Special Agent in Charge for HSI Philadelphia. “Homeland Security Investigations and our law enforcement partners will continue to work tirelessly to investigate and remove dangerous narcotic traffickers from our communities.”
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations Philadelphia’s Cyber Crimes Investigations Task Force (C2iTF) – a multi-agency initiative targeting cyber-enabled criminal activity. The Task Force is comprised of investigators and analysts from the Liberty Mid-Atlantic High Drug Trafficking Area Initiative, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Postal Service – Office of the Inspector General, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Pennsylvania National Guard, and the U.S. Secret Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nancy Beam Winter.