Federal prosecutors must turn over a broad swath of information subpoenaed by FedEx Corp. in its challenge to criminal charges that it aided online pharmacies ship drugs without prescriptions.
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer ordered the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to turn over the records FedEx seeks and denied the government’s motion to quash the subpoena.
FedEx, the world’s largest cargo airline, was charged in 2014 with money-laundering and conspiracy to deliver pain pills and other drugs to internet pharmacies, which in turn sold them to customers based on online questionnaires that were not reviewed by doctors.
Federal prosecutors argued the subpoena was nothing more than an “improper fishing expedition for inadmissible evidence” by the defendants. The government wanted FedEx to request the information through normal discovery and leave it to the government to respond.
“The subpoena demands production of entire investigative files,” the prosecution protested. Nevertheless, the U.S. construes the subpoena as a further discovery request and will take reasonable steps to produce the material, according to papers filed with Breyer.
The judge rejected the approach and called for the DEA to turn over nearly everything the defense sought.
The indictment alleges the company knew it was delivering drug to dealers and addicts by 2004. Company couriers in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia expressed fear for their safety and those concerns were allegedly circulated to FedEx senior managers. Among the warnings was that FedEx trucks were stopped on the road by online pharmacy customers demanding packages of pills with delivery addresses of parking lots, schools or vacant homes.
The company is charged with conspiring with two Internet pharmacy organizations, Chhabra-Smoley organization from 2000 to 2008, and Superior Drugs from 2002 to 2010.
Case: U.S. v. FedEx Corp. No. 14-320