A former American doctor has pleaded guilty to writing steroid prescriptions for people she never met or examined, as part of a business that illegally distributed sex-enhancing drugs to hundreds of customers.
Ana Maria Santi has become the second doctor to plead guilty in the federal investigation, which has also grounded the owner of a pharmaceutical company who hired the doctors.
Santi, 68, of New York, wrote an average of 100 prescriptions a month at $25 apiece even though she knew the drugs were not being used for any legitimate medical purpose.
Prosecutors say she signed the prescriptions using the name of a retired doctor in California, since her own medical license had been revoked several years earlier.
Now, Santi faces up to 155 years in prison, but prosecutors have agreed to a significantly reduced sentence because of her cooperation in the case.
"She's resigned, I think, to the situation," said Santi's lawyer, assistant federal public defender Edward C. Roy Jr. He said his client was looking forward to moving on with her life.
Among the pharmacies alleged to have filled the prescriptions is Orlando, Fla.-based Signature Pharmacy, whose owners have been indicted in a steroid case brought by prosecutors in Albany, N.Y. They have pleaded not guilty. The company is not charged in the Rhode Island case.
Pharmaceutical company owner Daniel McGlone agreed earlier this month to plead guilty in the scheme. Prosecutors say the New Jersey businessman marketed anabolic steroids and human growth hormone to bodybuilders and other customers - including some in Rhode Island - who were seeking to lose weight, prevent hair loss, or stop the effects of aging.
Prosecutors say McGlone advised his customers which drugs they should take and then forwarded their requests to Santi and a second doctor, Victor Mariani. Mariani pleaded guilty in March.
Prosecutors say the scheme spanned from April 2004 to August 2006, and Santi wrote prescriptions for 392 of the 480 customers of McGlone's business, American Pharmaceutical Group. She was paid roughly $24,340 for her role.
Santi pleaded guilty to 29 separate counts, including health care fraud, conspiracy and illegal drug distribution. Santi also is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in a similar steroids case earlier this year in New York.