Middlesex County couple charged with conspiring to distribute misbranded drugs

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A Middlesex County couple is accused of partaking in a scheme to market and distribute misbranded and unapproved new drugs.

Keith Kovaleski, 54, of South Amboy, and Ines Maltez, 33, of Sayreville, were both charged by complaint with conspiring to distribute and cause the receipt and delivery of misbranded drugs and unapproved new drugs, and to impede the functions of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito.

They appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael A. Hammer in Newark federal court on Jan. 29. Both defendants were released on $100,000 unsecured bond.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, from 2014 to January 2019, Kovaleski was the principal of AA Peptide LLC, aka All American Peptide (AAP). AAP reportedly used its website to market and distribute substances used by bodybuilders and others engaged in weight training to enhance performance and mitigate the side effects of performance-enhancing substances, according to the statement.

The AAP website reportedly included a bogus legal disclaimer that its products were intended for laboratory research use only, and not as drugs or food. Kovaleski allegedly employed the bogus “research chemicals” disclaimer to conceal that he and others were distributing misbranded drugs and unapproved new drugs for use by their customers, according to the statement.

Between April and December 2018, an undercover law enforcement agent made five purchases of misbranded drugs and unapproved new drugs from the AAP website, according to the statement. Each undercover purchase was made through the website without a prescription, and none of the substances purchased contained an “Rx-only” designation on their labels, according to officials. None of the substances purchased from AAP contained adequate directions for use or warnings regarding known side-effects, officials said. Two of the purchases included pills containing tadalafil, the active ingredient in Cialis, in dosages significantly higher than the highest recommended dosage, the statement alleges. 

Maltez allegedly participated in the scheme by packaging and mailing misbranded and unapproved drugs, and by receiving payments from customers.

The conspiracy charge carries a maximum potential penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the gross pecuniary gain or loss.