FedEx, a company known for its delivery services, just had all charges filed by the U.S Attorney’s office for Northern California dropped. The prosecutors claimed that FedEx conspired with pharmacies to deliver controlled substances to people’s places of residence, conspired to launder money, and conspired to deliver misbranded drugs.
These are charges which, if they had proven true, could have cost the company up to 1.6 billion dollars in fines. The prosecutors claimed that some of the drugs distributed by FedEx included, but were not limited to, painkillers, anti-anxiety pills, sleep aids, and sedatives.
FedEx was originally charged with 18 counts, but after the wrong defendant was accidentally named in one of the legal documents, over a dozen of the charges were thrown out. After some discussion, both FedEx and the prosecutors decided to forego a jury and instead rely solely on the judge to make the final decision.
“FedEx continuously worked with law enforcement” to aid in the investigation of the illegal pharmacies and “had no participation whatsoever” in any illegal activity that may or may not have been carried out by any of the doctors, defense attorney Arguedas declared to Mercury News.
FedEx claimed that not only did it not know of the illegal activity, but it is up to the doctors and pharmacies to determine whether or not a prescription is legal or not. They also claimed to only pick up medicine from DEA approved pharmacies, and if any of them turn out to be hosting illegal activity, it is the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) job to take them off the list.
Judge Breyer, the judge assigned to the San Francisco case, stated that the prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that FedEx had knowledge of and intent of wrongdoing. “And if not, the case is terminated from the court’s point of view.” (Insurance Journal)
In his eyes, even if they could have proved that FedEx was indeed delivering these illegal prescriptions, without proof that it knew what it was doing, the government had no case. The judge dropped the case only five days after the trial began when certain evidence emerged. The evidence showed that FedEx had found out about a customer shipping illegal prescriptions and had contacted the DEA about it, but the DEA didn’t get back to FedEx.
This is not the first time FedEx has been accused of knowingly delivering illegal goods. Back in 2013, the city of New York stated that FedEx was shipping untaxed cigarettes, even after signing an agreement to stop said deliveries in the state. Two separate cases were originally made against the shipping company in regard to the contraband cigarettes, but were just recently combined by U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos. This particular claim has been in the works since 2013.
There is a precedent for other delivery companies in this situation. The United Parcel System Inc. paid out $40 million dollars to the government so as not to be charged with similar allegations, and is also currently under investigation in New York for illegal cigarette activity.