FedEx was criminally charged in the Northern District of California with trafficking drugs for illegal web pharmacies. One of our fellow women defense attorneys, Cris Arguedas of San Francisco, California, is lead counsel with Allen Ruby for FedEx. Arguedas has a national reputation for her involvement in the defense of many high profile defendants like Barry Bonds and as a member of the OJ Simpson team. I have had the pleasure of interviewing Cris Arguedas, heard her speak, and met her in San Francisco. She is one of the great true defenders in this country and FedEx clearly has demonstrated their commitment to defending themselves in their wise choice of defense counsel.
Arguedas appeared in Court at the end of the July and entered a Not Guilty Plea to the Indictment stating in court, “We are a transportation company, not a pharmacy, not a website, not a doctor.” The allegation is that FedEx delivered drugs from internet pharmacies that supplied pharmaceuticals to patients that were never examined by a doctor but rather based on them filling out a questionnaire. Arguedas said, “The Company has cooperated with the Department of Justice throughout its multiyear investigation,” and “FedEx will continue to defend its conduct and its people.”
This prosecution is part of the government’s crackdown on online pharmacies. Last year the United Parcel Services, Inc agreed to forfeit $40 million for shipping from illicit online pharmacies under a non prosecution agreement with the Justice Department, Walgreens and CVS.
A decision like United States Parcel Services made to settle with the Department of Justice has become commonplace in this country. It is now the standard cost of doing business that US and International companies and banks wanting to do business in the United States will inevitably have to settle with the government over an investigation or probe into their criminal and regulatory violations. The problem with this practice is that the Government’s allegations are never truly tested. They don’t have to prove their allegations in a court of law subject to a legal standard that exists to protect the rights of individuals and companies.
The charges leveled in the FedEx case are particularly concerning because at the heart of the allegation is the notion that a company should be responsible for policing its customers. Sound familiar? This is a dangerous slippery slop. Thankfully for FedEx and the rest of us for that matter, Cris Arguedas is leading the fight against such an injustice.