The former owner of Montana Health Care Solutions in Belgrade will serve no prison time for his part in the distribution of imported counterfeit chemotherapy drugs.

Chief U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen on Friday sentenced 48-year-old Paul Daniel Bottomley to five years of probation with six months of home confinement and 200 hours of community service.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office had asked for a year and a day of jail time. Christensen, in the Russell Smith Federal Courthouse in Missoula, called Bottomley’s crime “egregious and unlawful and I do not condone it in any way.”

But the judge noted Bottomley’s “unprecedented cooperation” with investigators and his forfeiture of some $4.45 million in personal assets. Those included $1.09 million in currency, 263 acres of land in Gallatin County and a 2011 Aston Martin sports car that sold for $110,000 at auction in April.

Bottomley pleaded guilty in April to the rare felony charge of misprision, or concealment of a felony. He opened Montana Health Care Solutions in 2008 and admitted to importing and distributing misbranded and unapproved drugs from foreign countries to health care professionals.

Bottomley sold the company in October 2010 to a division of Canada Drugs, Rockley Ventures, for $5 million. Bottomley was paid $10,000 a month as a consultant to Rockley, Canada Drugs and related companies following the sale as the company expanded its reach worldwide.

In January 2012, the Food and Drug Administration learned Rockley Ventures was selling the cancer drug Avastin at discount prices to health care professionals. Testing found the knockoff was “not much more than saline solution,” according to Michael Cotter, U.S. attorney for the District of Montana,

An investigation by the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations concluded that, while Bottomley had no involvement in the importation and distribution of the drug, he was aware of it by January 2012 and failed to put a stop to it or notify authorities.

Bottomley said he drew on more than 20 years of pharmaceutical experience in determining the drugs were safe and effective, even though he knew they weren’t approved by the FDA.

***

He told Christensen he accepted responsibility for his bad judgment and for “turning a blind eye” to federal regulations that are created to protect Americans who rely on professionals to administer safe, proper and effective medications.

Bottomley has lost everything except his home, his attorney Jay Lansing of Billings said in asking Christensen not to order incarceration. Bottomley had a spotless prior criminal record, and is a lay minister who hosts church and church-related activities in a barn on his property, Lansing said.

With a wife and two teenage children, Bottomley faces an uncertain future of employment as a convicted felon, Lansing pointed out.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Fehr argued a jail sentence was warranted, saying that before he was stopped, Bottomley was on a “slippery slope that was, quite frankly, driven by greed.”

The sentencing came on the heels of another in Missouri on Thursday in which Richard Taylor of England was sentenced to 18 months in prison and an $800,000 fine for distributing a Turkish version of Avastin to U.S. doctors. It turned out to be counterfeit.

John Roth, director of the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigation, was in Missoula on Friday for Bottomley’s sentencing. He said it was only the most recent of a string of convictions in the U.S. for crimes related to distribution of unapproved prescription drugs in the past two years.

“The sentencing today represents a significant milestone in our efforts to protect the public health from substandard, unapproved and counterfeit medications,” Roth said at a news conference afterward at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in downtown Missoula.

Cotter said pharmaceutical distributors such as Bottomley who circumvent the regulatory framework of the industry “are playing Russian roulette with the health of the American public.”

“This case is about greed, the greed of the individuals like Bottomley, the greed of the physicians who purchased discounted, foreign drugs for distribution to their patients suffering from cancer and other serious ailments,” said Cotter.

“The true losers in this case were the patients at the end of the distribution chain who received saline solution instead of life-saving chemotherapy drugs.”

Reporter Kim Briggeman can be reached at (406) 523-5266 or by email at kbriggeman@missoulian.com.

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(5) comments

Josh

More confirmation that there are two sets of rules in this country. One for the rich and one for the rest of us. The moral of the story is that if you engage in fraud, make sure you go big enough to buy your way out of prison.

Bluehawk

Selling worthless medicine to cancer patients deserves more than a "poor man, he lost all of his money, let him go"! Why even bother to have a justice system.

Re-Made in Montana

Amen.

listen

This trial should have been held in Granite County. Here a guy got 10 days in jail for shooting a dog attacking his dogs on his property. He reports it to 911. Then gets charged 1 month later with 1) interfering with a legal hunt ( no licenses or permits asked for or ever presented) 2)criminal mischief (thrown in for whatever) and 3)animal cruelty. He was found not guilty of the 1st charge, cause it was established it wasn't a legal hunt and guilty for the other 2. Go figure. He had to pay $1500 restitution for a "hunting" dog that had no papers, no certification, not insured and even though 3 dogs were involved, no positive ID made to which dog and to which of 3 hunters, illegally hunting and trespassing ( no permission) it actually belonged to. Do you think that the fact that one of the "hunters" was the County Commission had something to do with it? Collusion? Fraud? Abuse of power?
Bottomley could have killed someone or added to their pain and suffering all for mega bucks which at least he had to pay back. But not 1 day in prison?!! The poor guy defending his property got 10 days. So, per the judge, "he can think about what he did and it will set for the rest of his life". BTW this case went through 2 trials JP and district cause he felt he was innocent. Had he plead guilty, the charges would have been dropped and only restitution of $500 requested. There is no justice for just us poor nobodies !!

west side

This Bottomley is a Bottom Feeder. Selling saline as a lifesaving chemotherapy drug deserves prison time. What a scum bag. Bet he'll be conjuring up some other fraudulent get-rich-scheme during his 6 month private vacation in the comforts of his own luxurious home. Taking away his Aston Martin, bought by duping deperate people with a cancer sentence, is not even a slap on the wrist. It's permission for him to try it again.

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