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A well-known Miami-Dade criminal lawyer and former mayor was sentenced to 40 months in jail on March 3 after he pleaded guilty to using his illegal Internet pharmacy site to sell tens of millions of dollars worth of pharmaceutical drugs to individuals without prescriptions throughout the United States.
Robert Smoley, 59, is the owner of the online pharmacy United Mail Pharmacy Services. He admitted that his medical distributions were outside the scope of professional medical practice and without legitimate medical purpose. This was no revelation, it could easily be assumed that the lawyer/mayor had no place in the realm of medical practice. He and others (doctors who apparently cared little about the possibly of losing their license) distributed approximately $48 million worth of drugs. This included selling over seven million pills through more than 17 online pharmacy sites. He established an elaborate distribution network based out of a warehouse in Florida. He used call centers in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic to take orders for United States-based individuals.
“The Smoley drug trafficking organization fed the habits of drug seekers while its members chose profits over the health and well-being of those customers,” DEA special agent Anthony Williams said.
Smoley took online orders from “customers” who filled out forms. Smoley made no effort to check the accuracy of any of the information on the forms. These order forms were given to a group of doctors who would do rubber-stamp approval of the orders and fill them. Smoley encouraged his network of doctors to review as many orders as possible. These doctors would approve upwards of 500 orders per day making between $2 and $5 per order. The doctors never conducted any physical exams on these “patients” nor saw any medical paperwork. Smoley admitted he was well aware of this.
The one-time mayor was caught in early 2008 when he ordered more than half a million drugs from an undercover DEA agent. He has been under investigation by federal agents in California since then. He pleaded guilty in November 2008 before a federal judge in San Francisco to conspiracy to distribute schedule III and IV controlled substances, which includes narcotic medicines, and conspiracy to launder money.
Miami lawyer Richard Sharpstein represented Smoley in March before United States District Court Judge Jeffrey White.
Sharpstein said his client opened his Internet pharmacy fully believing it was legal. (Really? A lawyer running a pharmacy to dole out mass numbers of prescription medicines to unknown buyers with little documentation was legal at one time?) “Unfortunately for him, over the past five years, the government has reversed its position and he was caught in the web.”
The Smoley investigation led to the dismantling of more than five Internet pharmacies that illegally distributed more than 80 million doses of medicine. Law enforcement agents seized more than $40 million in cash and assets, including high value homes and luxury vehicles. Smoley was left with nothing but his not-so-luxurious jail cell.
Smoley will have ample time in jail to think about how he put the health and welfare of so many Americans at risk. Now, what about the doctors who were reviewing all of these prescription orders without knowing a drop about any of the “patients?” Will they be exposed, caught, charged and sentenced? This is unknown. It can only be hoped, however, that these immoral doctors are not spread widely throughout the U.S. practicing their special brand of medicine on patients that are none the wiser.
There were 27 individuals convicted on federal criminal charges along with Smoley. There is no word about whether these were in fact the doctors or if it was the call center and warehouse workers.
Should Smoley be considered a criminal lawyer (a possibly redundant title) or a lawyer criminal who was caught breaking the law. Either way, we’ll see you in 40 months, Smoley, with hopefully a new and improved set of morals.