Updated: Thursday, 24 Jun 2010, 6:08 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 24 Jun 2010, 6:08 PM EDT
BUFFALO, N.Y. (RELEASE) - U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced that Mary Anne Catalano, 32, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, pled guilty today in U.S. District Court to making a false statement during an immigration inspection on September 14, 2009, when she attempted to enter the United States at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, New York. The guilty plea was entered before United States District Judge Richard J. Arcara. The maximum penalty for Ms. Catalano’s felony offense is five years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.
Assistant United States Attorney Paul J. Campana said Ms. Catalano told Officers from the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that the medical equipment and supplies she was carrying were intended for display at a medical conference she was attending with her boss, Dr Anthony Galea of Toronto. She later admitted that, in fact, her purpose for coming to the United States was to meet Dr. Galea and to deliver the medical equipment and supplies to him so he could perform a medical procedure on a person in the United States. Galea, 50, who is not a United States citizen, has a medical practice in Toronto and is not licensed to practice medicine in this country.
Campana said a criminal complaint against Galea, 50, was filed in U.S. District Court in Buffalo on May 18, 2010, in a case arising from this investigation. Galea is charged in that complaint with making false statements to federal officials, smuggling, unlawful distribution of human growth hormone (HGH), introducing an unapproved drug (actovegin) into interstate commerce, and conspiracy to defraud the United States.
In the plea agreement signed today by Ms. Catalano, she has agreed to cooperate in the investigation of Galea. Campana said Ms. Catalano’s cooperation began early in the investigation when, after her inspection was completed on September 14, 2009, she admitted to agents from ICE and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that she in fact was coming to the United States to deliver medical items to Galea to enable him to perform medical services in this country. U.S. Attorney Hochul said the FBI joined the investigation shortly after the events at the border were concluded.
Ms. Catalano said in her plea agreement that Galea told her to tell U.S. border officials that she and Galea were coming to the United States only to attend lectures, but that in fact, when she and Galea came to the United States, Galea provided medical treatments to athletes in different cities here. The amount of billings generated as a result of Galea’s work in the United States while Ms. Catalano worked for him exceeded $200,000.
Ms. Catalano also admitted in her plea agreement that on August 27, 2009, at Galea’s request and at his direction, she entered the United States and delivered a product containing human growth hormone for use by two persons in the United States.
As United States Attorney Hochul stated: "The threats which appear at our borders on virtually a daily basis, come in many different forms. We remain vigilant in our effort to preserve the integrity of our nation's borders, and in so doing, to preserve the health, safety, and welfare of all who live and work in our great country."
U.S. Attorney Hochul said the guilty plea was the result of an investigation by Special Agents of the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Lev Kubiak; Department of Homeland Security, Office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, under the direction of Port Director Joseph J. Wilson; the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent In-Charge James Robertson; and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations, New York Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent In-Charge Mark Dragonetti.
Judge Arcara scheduled sentencing for October 14, 2010 at 12:30 pm. Ms. Catalano is released on a $10,000 unsecured bond pending sentencing.