United States v. Dessart, No. 14-2686 (7th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
At his Reedsville, Wisconsin home, Dessart manufactured and sold products containing the active chemical ingredients in numerous prescription drugs, offering them for sale online with the disclaimer “for research only” to evade FDA oversight. After receiving an anonymous tip, investigating Dessart’s website, and intercepting three packages connected to Dessart’s operation, agents obtained a warrant, conducted a controlled delivery, and search Dessart’s house. He was convicted of violating the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. 331, with the intent to defraud or mislead the agency, which converted his violations from strict-liability misdemeanors into specific-intent felonies. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that the FDA’s investigator lied in procuring a search warrant and the warrant otherwise lacked probable cause; the government’s evidence was insufficient to prove that he acted with deceptive intent; and the district court erred in instructing the jury on the definition of “prescription drug.” The evidence of Dessart’s intent to mislead the FDA was ample and easily sufficient to support the jury’s verdict.