A federal judge in Denver today sentenced a former Colorado Springs pharmacist to 40 months in prison for smuggling human growth hormones from China.
U.S. District Court Marcia S. Krieger also let stand a jury verdict that calls for Thomas Bader to forfeit $4.8 million in assets obtained through the sale and distribution of HGH.
“Mr. Bader is a good man,” Krieger told a courtroom with about 27 of his friends and family members in the audience.
“But like most of us he is neither a hero or a villain or a victim,” the judge added. “He is a person who has made choices and whom the law holds accountable for those choices.”
Bader, 66, is the former owner of College Pharmacy. He sold the business in December 2007.
“Had I known that what I was doing was illegal, I wouldn’t have done it,” the white-haired defendant said, wearing a yellow prison jumpsuit. “I thought I was following the law, but I stand before you convicted.”
Bader said he turned down plea offers, believing that a jury would find him innocent of the charges.
Instead, a jury convicted him on Feb. 2 following a four-week trial.
“I just wanted to clear my name,” Bader told the judge. “I am faced with losing everything that I have worked for my entire life. I don’t think it’s deserved.”
The jury found him guilty of conspiracy, smuggling and distribution of human growth hormones plus possession with the intent to distribute anabolic steroids.
Krieger dismissed about 24 other counts against Bader in April and sentenced him today on the remaining eight counts.
The judge said she respected Bader’s sincerity and his attempts to challenge the regulations imposed on HGH by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration through two civil lawsuits.
But by importing HGH, Krieger said Bader was acting like a drug manufacturer, except that he wasn’t subject to inspection and regulations that are aimed at protecting the public.
“This is a case about a failure to recognize what regulations apply and to comply with them when they disagreed with what he thought the law should be,” the judge said near the end of a five-hour sentencing hearing. “This is a case about arrogance and greed.”
Bader’s lawyer Charles H. Torres said they will appeal the conviction, contending that the laws his client was found guilty of breaking are not clear.
“I think this area of the law is extremely unsettled,” Torres said. “It’s too bad Mr. Bader had to be the first to deal with this uncertainty.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jaime Peña, however, said Bader’s criminal conduct was clear and repetitive.
“This was blatant criminal conduct over a period of time,” Pena told the judge. “Ultimately, this comes down to making money,” Peña concluded. “He may have been at the end of his career, but he was going to cash out.”
The $4.8 million verdict applies to properties in several states, including the building in which College Pharmacy is located at 3505 Austin Bluffs Parkway, Peña said. But the existing business and the government have a separate agreement that will enable the pharmacy to continue doing business there, he said.