Suspended sentence for man who sold stolen generic Viagra

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Credit: www.doctor-4-u.co.uk/

A 30-year-old longshoreman from Birżebbuġa was given a suspended sentence and a 12,000 euro fine on Friday after a court found him guilty of being an accomplice to reselling stolen drugs and selling drugs without the necessary permission.

Ryan Bartolo was arrested in August 2016 and charged with complicity in the theft of Sildenafil – generic Viagra – produced by Actavis, concealment and resale of drugs without the necessary license.

Prosecution inspector Doriette Cuschieri told the court that a representative of the Medicines Authority had filed a report with the Economic Crimes Unit after the company came across an online post on Maltapark advertising the drug it was producing and reported it to the authorities.

The cybercrime unit traced the IP address to the accused and his wife. The man’s sister-in-law, who worked at Actavis as a housekeeper, had registered her internet at the same address.

The man was arrested on August 31, 2016. During a raid on his home, police found 17 boxes of 50mg Sildenafil and ten boxes of 100mg Sildenafil. In his statement to the police, he first claimed that he would get the medicine from a man from Ħal Qormi whom he refused to identify. However, in July 2019, he finally changed his story and said his sister-in-law would bring the drug which was then resold online and they would split the profits.

According to his statement to the police, Bartolo admitted to selling two boxes of 50mg via Maltapark. He said he would buy each pill for 50 cents and resell them for $1.50.

The CEO of the company had given evidence confirming that the matter had been reported to the Medicines Authority after the online advertisement on Maltapark. He explained that Actavis took the matter seriously since this generic Viagra is only available in pharmacies on prescription. He also confirmed that police investigations had established that the cleaner who was employed by a contracted cleaning company was the one taking the drugs from the factory.

The defendant’s ex-wife testified in February 2021 informing the court that the couple were in the midst of separation proceedings and elected to take the witness stand. She explained that at the time Bartolo was living with her in Birżebbuġa and remembered the day when the police turned on their doorstep. She said the man cooperated with the police.

The woman explained that her sister, who was working at Actavis at the time, would bring the drug home and the defendant would put the ads online. The accused and his wife’s sister had agreed to share the profits. She also said the defendant tried to cover up for her sister.

The man’s sister-in-law, Alexis Bondin, testified in court saying she worked inside the warehouse as a cleaner. She initially denied stealing drugs in criminal proceedings against Bartolo, although she pleaded guilty in criminal proceedings against her. She testified that Bartolo said he got the drug from someone in Qormi. The court considered her a hostile witness. Eventually she admitted to stealing the drugs, handing them over to the defendant for him to sell, telling the court she needed the money at the time.

On Friday, magistrate Nadine Lia, who presided over the court, handed down a one-year prison sentence suspended for three years. He was also fined €12,000.

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