To hear the guy's lawyer tell it, as he did to the judge, Mark Andrew Goetz was in a big financial bind: Wife was in an accident and lost her job, mortgage payments on two homes were backed up, and so forth. So Goetz crossed a line. He sold a bag of Xanax and OxyContin pills that his Northfield business was supposed to destroy. To whom? According to an affidavit, to a secret DEA informant.
Goetz pleaded guilty to the ensuing charges, and on Tuesday he got an angry lecture from U.S. District Judge James Rosenbaum before getting sentenced to two years in prison.
The sentencing brought to a close a bizarre case involving a little-known aspect of the pharmaceutical industry: companies known as "reverse distributors." Nationwide, the Drug Enforcement Administration has registered 51 companies to collect prescription medicines that are near or past their expiration date, are considered excess inventory or are otherwise unwanted."As a reverse distributor, Mr. Goetz had the responsibility to return controlled substances to the manufacturer or destroy them," DEA special agent Gary G. Olenkiewicz said in a press release picked up by the Northfield News. "Instead, he chose to make a profit from them on the black market, which makes him no different than a street dealer pushing cocaine or heroin."
The drugs are then destroyed, usually by being burned in an incinerator approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. The destruction must be witnessed by at least two people, and reverse distributors must keep detailed records for the DEA.