Salesman Pleads Guilty to Misbranding Drug, Copyright Infringement

Ming Yan, who operates a computer store in North Providence, R.I., has pleaded guilty to causing the misbranding of the prescription drug sildenafil citrate, which is marketed as Viagra, and to copyright infringement. Immigration and Food and Drug Administration agents seized counterfeit sildenafil citrate pills and more than 1,000 pirated movie DVDs from Yan's store and home in March 2008.

United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha announced the guilty plea, which Yan entered Nov. 10 before Chief U.S. District Court Mary M. Lisi in U.S. District Court in Providence. At the plea hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary E. Rogers said the government could prove that, on March 12, 2008, agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and FDA's Office of Criminal Investigation conducted a controlled delivery of a package that had been shipped from India to Yan's business, Automation Systems. After signing for the package, Yan admitted it was his and that he had ordered it from an Internet Web site identifying itself as Canadian. It contained 372 sildenafil citrate pills but had no FDA approved labeling, and Yan had no prescription for the pills. At first, he claimed the pills were for personal use, but later admitted that he sold them to customers and that he had previously ordered pills from the same Web site.

During a search of Yan's store, agents noticed copies of copyright protected movies and equipment used to make multiple copies of DVDs. Yan initially claimed that he copied the movies for himself, but later admitted that he gave them to customers who bought computers, or sold them for a dollar each. From the store and from Yan's home, agents seized 1,165 pirated movie DVDs and DVD copying equipment.

Subsequent interviews of some of Yan's computer customers determined that computers he sold contained unlicensed software that Yan had installed. Agents also found a letter from Microsoft Corporation, dated in 2003, warning Automation Systems that it was infringing on Microsoft's copyrights.

Yan, 59, of Providence, pleaded guilty to one count of misbranding a drug and two counts of copyright infringement. The maximum penalty for misbranding a drug is one year in prison and a $100,000 fine; the maximum for copyright infringement is three years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Yan is free on unsecured bond pending sentencing, which is scheduled for Feb. 26.

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