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Couple sentenced for importing/distributing counterfeit drug products

February 24th, 2021 – 4:30 PM
United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia –

ROME, Ga. – Irfanali Momin and Shiba I. Momin a/k/a Saguftabanu Momin, husband and wife, have been sentenced to prison for naturalization fraud and conspiring to illegally import and distribute misbranded drug products from China and traffic counterfeit goods. The Momins have also been criminally denaturalized as result of their convictions for naturalization fraud

“The defendants built their business and earned their citizenship through fraud,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine. “And, by illegally importing and distributing products containing drugs that can only be obtained in the United States with a prescription written by a licensed medical professional, the Momins put profit over public safety.

“This announcement demonstrates that those who subvert the regulatory functions of the FDA by distributing misbranded drugs containing undeclared prescription drug ingredients and counterfeit tobacco products will be held accountable for their actions,” said Special Agent in Charge Justin C. Fielder, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Miami Field Office. “We will continue to bring to justice those who place American consumers at risk by selling these illegal and potentially dangerous products.

“The Momins lived a life of lies in this country from their fraudulent citizenship to their business of selling illegal products to customers whose health was threatened by the use of those products,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “Now they will pay for their deception in prison time and loss of their citizenship. The FBI is committed to working with our federal partners to protect our citizens against anyone who would choose to do them harm.”

“The Momins will now face the consequences of their lies and schemes to illegally gain citizenship and import and sell misbranded pharmaceuticals. Their actions not only placed unsuspecting purchasers at risk, they also threatened the integrity of the US immigration system,” said Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama. “Homeland Security Investigations and its law enforcement partners will aggressively pursue those that seek to profit from these fraudulent and dangerous activities.

According to Acting U.S. Attorney Erskine, the charges and other information presented in court: Between August 2014 and November 2018, the Momins ordered and sold male enhancement products from China marketed under various names.  These products contained sildenafil, the active pharmaceutical ingredient in Viagra, and/or tadalafil, the active pharmaceutical ingredient in Cialis. Both Viagra and Cialis can be obtained in the U.S. only with a prescription from a doctor.

The Momins had in fact received more than a dozen notices from the FDA advising them to not sell these products. The FDA has also warned consumers for more than half-a-decade to not purchase or use such “all natural” sexual products because they could have serious side effects, especially in men who are taking nitrates and suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease

In order to evade import restrictions, the Momins’ China-based suppliers mislabeled the boxes containing the illegal pills to make it appear that the boxes contained items that can be legally imported into the U.S., such as beauty products, health products, and health supplies. The Momins admitted to selling between $550,000 and $1.5 million in illegal drug products over the course of the conspiracy. They also sold various counterfeit goods from their warehouse in Dalton, Georgia, including counterfeit designer watches, headphones, e-cigarette devices, and tobacco rolling papers.

Earlier, in October 2013, the Momins both applied to become naturalized U.S. citizens. On his application form, Irfanali Momin falsely stated that he had never been married before and did not disclose that he had in fact been married to two women at the same time. During an interview with USCIS in June 2014, Irfanali Momin made the same false declarations. Based upon his false statements, Irfanali Momin became a naturalized U.S. citizen on August 16, 2014. On her application form, Shiba I. Momin a/k/a Saguftabanu Momin, falsely stated that she did not go by any other names when in fact she knew that her actual name was Shiba I. Momin, but she was only passing as Saguftabanu Momin. The investigation had revealed that Shiba I. Momin had originally obtained a Georgia’s driver’s license in her real name only to later obtain a fraudulent license in the name Saguftabanu Momin—the name she used to apply for and fraudulently receive U.S. citizenship on August 1, 2014. If USCIS had been aware of these facts, it would have denied her citizenship

On February 12, 2021, Irfanali Momin, 48, and Shiba I. Momin a/k/a Saguftabanu Momin, 42, both of Dahlonega, Georgia, were each sentenced by U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones to one year, six months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and ordered to pay a special assessment of $200. They were both convicted on September 23, 2020 after pleading guilty to a criminal information. On February 23, 2021, Judge Jones issued orders revoking their U.S. citizenship.

This case was investigated by the Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex R. Sistla prosecuted the case.