Nevada Man Indicted For Sales Of Counterfeit And Misbranded Contact Lenses
By: John A. Schwab
Last week, a Las Vegas resident was indicted in the District of Nevada on allegations that he sold counterfeit and misbranded contact lenses to customers via the internet. The defendant, Dmitriy Melnik, now faces one count of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods and to introduce misbranded devices into interstate commerce, four counts of trafficking in counterfeit goods, and five counts of introducing misbranded devices into interstate commerce. The governments alleged that Melnik imported colored contact lenses from the Peoples Republic of China and South Korea – knowing them to be counterfeit or otherwise unauthorized by the FDA – to be sold in the United States.
Many of the contact lenses had counterfeit trademarks names and symbols of name brand lenses while others had labels of brands produced and sold in Asia. It was also alleged that some contact lenses were contaminated with a potentially dangerous bacteria. Contact lenses – even those which are solely decorative and do not correct vision – are considered medical devices and, thus, regulated by the FDA. Medical devices like contact lenses must also receive FDA authorization to be imported into the United States and sold in interstate commerce.
Trafficking in counterfeit goods, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2320, carries a variety of penalties depending on whether the crime was a first or subsequent offense, resulted in serious bodily injury or death, or involved counterfeit military goods or counterfeit drugs. The potential terms of imprisonment range from a maximum of 10 years for a first offense, 20 years for a second offense or if serious bodily injury occurred, or 20 years for an offense involving counterfeit military goods or counterfeit drugs. These penalties were increased to this level in 2012 which, in turn, led to amendments to the federal sentencing guidelines in 2013 under which Mr. Melnik would be sentenced if convicted.