Texan indicted in hormone scheme

May 11, 2007|By Matthew Dolan | Matthew Dolan,Sun reporter

A Texas man accused of importing almost $1 million worth of human growth hormone from China has been indicted in federal court in Baltimore on charges he resold the restricted drug to at least one Maryland man.

Bradley C. Blum, 36, of Houston, appeared in U.S. District Court in Texas on May 4 on a criminal complaint, but the case was immediately transferred to Maryland this week after a grand jury in Baltimore indicted him on similar charges of conspiring to illegally distribute and illegally distributing human growth hormone.

The Maryland U.S. attorney's office announced Blum's arrest yesterday.

According to court papers filed in Texas, an investigation led by the federal Food and Drug Administration has long targeted GeneScience China, a biotechnology company. Authorities in court documents accuse GeneScience of repeatedly exporting illegal shipments of human growth hormone into the United States by mislabeling the packages as glassware, toys and hair products.

"In fact, on its website it offers its customers `insurance' against U.S. Customs seizure at the rate of $3/vial, so that if a shipment of GeneScience HGH is seized by the FDA or U.S. Customs before delivery to a U.S. customer, GeneScience will reship the order at no further cost to that customer," FDA Special Agent Michael Widenhouse wrote in the criminal complaint lodged against Blum.

Between 2004 and 2006, the company and Blum -- who said he was the company's North American representative -- imported at least 600 shipments of illegal hormone into the United States, a total worth more than $900,000, according to Widenhouse.

The federal charges in Texas allege Blum sold the restricted drug to a Leonardtown man over the Internet. Authorities believe that Blum arranged for at least 50 deliveries to at least 15 people in Maryland, documents filed in federal court in Texas show.

Court papers did not detail why customers wanted the hormone, which can reproduce cells and has controversial applications in anti-aging treatments.

The indictment against Blum also seeks $863,534 in property and proceeds traceable to his alleged scheme. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison on each of two charges.

matthew.dolan@baltsun.com

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