BUFFALO, N.Y. (RELEASE) - U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced that Mary AnneCatalano, 32, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, pled guilty today inU.S. District Court to making a false statement during animmigration inspection on September 14, 2009, when she attempted toenter the United States at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, New York.The guilty plea was entered before United States District JudgeRichard J. Arcara. The maximum penalty for Ms. Catalano’sfelony 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 andCustoms Enforcement (ICE) that the medical equipment and suppliesshe was carrying were intended for display at a medical conferenceshe was attending with her boss, Dr Anthony Galea of Toronto. Shelater admitted that, in fact, her purpose for coming to the UnitedStates was to meet Dr. Galea and to deliver the medical equipmentand supplies to him so he could perform a medical procedure on aperson in the United States. Galea, 50, who is not a United Statescitizen, has a medical practice in Toronto and is not licensed topractice medicine in this country.
Campana said a criminal complaint against Galea, 50, was filedin U.S. District Court in Buffalo on May 18, 2010, in a casearising from this investigation. Galea is charged in that complaintwith making false statements to federal officials, smuggling,unlawful distribution of human growth hormone (HGH), introducing anunapproved drug (actovegin) into interstate commerce, andconspiracy to defraud the United States.
In the plea agreement signed today by Ms. Catalano, she hasagreed 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, sheadmitted to agents from ICE and the Food and Drug Administration(FDA) that she in fact was coming to the United States to delivermedical items to Galea to enable him to perform medical services inthis country. U.S. Attorney Hochul said the FBI joined theinvestigation shortly after the events at the border wereconcluded.
Ms. Catalano said in her plea agreement that Galea told her totell U.S. border officials that she and Galea were coming to theUnited States only to attend lectures, but that in fact, when sheand Galea came to the United States, Galea provided medicaltreatments to athletes in different cities here. The amount ofbillings generated as a result of Galea’s work in the UnitedStates while Ms. Catalano worked for him exceeded $200,000.
Ms. Catalano also admitted in her plea agreement that on August27, 2009, at Galea’s request and at his direction, sheentered the United States and delivered a product containing humangrowth hormone for use by two persons in the United States.
As United States Attorney Hochul stated: "The threats whichappear at our borders on virtually a daily basis, come in manydifferent forms. We remain vigilant in our effort to preserve theintegrity of our nation's borders, and in so doing, to preserve thehealth, safety, and welfare of all who live and work in our greatcountry."
U.S. Attorney Hochul said the guilty plea was the result of aninvestigation by Special Agents of the Department of HomelandSecurity, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, under the directionof Special Agent in Charge Lev Kubiak; Department of HomelandSecurity, Office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, under thedirection of Port Director Joseph J. Wilson; the Federal Bureau ofInvestigation, under the direction of Special Agent In-Charge JamesRobertson; and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office ofCriminal Investigations, New York Field Office, under the directionof Special Agent In-Charge Mark Dragonetti.
Judge Arcara scheduled sentencing for October 14, 2010 at 12:30pm. Ms. Catalano is released on a $10,000 unsecured bond pendingsentencing.
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