KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tom Larson, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Venice, Calif., woman pleaded guilty in federal court today to her role in a $2.25 million conspiracy to sell anabolic steroids over the Internet.
Brittainy N. Baker, 29, of Venice, pleaded guilty before U.S. Chief District Judge Greg Kays to participating in a conspiracy to manufacture and distribute anabolic steroids from December 2011 to February 2016.
In a separate but related case, Michael G. Peters, 29, of Pelham, New Hampshire, was sentenced today to three years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Peters to forfeit to the government $2.25 million, which was derived from the proceeds of the illegal drug trafficking.
Conspirators operated an Internet-based company, Power Trip, which sold various anabolic steroids to customers (including athletes and minors) throughout the United States. Conspirators required customers to pay for the steroids by using various debit cards. Customers used names and account numbers for these debit cards that were provided by conspirators. Conspirators used stolen identities to produce or obtain debit cards, such as Green Dot MoneyPak, MyVanilla, ReloadIT, NetSpend ReloadIT and BlackHawk. They required their customers to send payments to these cards in order to conceal and disguise the proceeds of the illegal transactions.
Aaron Vincent Schweidler, 32, of Smithfield, N.C., formerly of Weston, was sentenced to four years in federal prison without parole for his role in the conspiracy and for money laundering. The court also ordered Schweidler to forfeit to the government $2.25 million, which was derived from the proceeds of the illegal drug trafficking, and his residence in North Carolina. Nicole R. Lyne, 27, also of Smithfield, N.C., and formerly of Weston, was sentenced to five years of probation. Samuel C. Miller IV, 30, of Annapolis, Md., has also pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing.
Schweidler began operating this online anabolic steroid distribution business in late 2011 in Utah. Schweidler quickly sought out assistance from other conspirators, including Baker and Peters, to help collect the proceeds from the illegal drug sales. Eventually Schweidler, Baker and Peters relocated the operation to North Carolina. In 2013 Schweidler and Peters relocated the operation again to the Kansas City, Mo., area, but Baker did not relocate with them.
During Baker’s involvement in the conspiracy, she assisted in the operation by transferring over $9,000 in funds via Western Union from the United States to China to purchase raw materials utilized in the manufacture of anabolic steroids. Baker further assisted in the operation by collecting the proceeds from the illegal drug sales from customers.
Baker allowed her accounts (including Green Dot, Paypal, Bancorp, and US Bank) to be used for customer to make payments for the purchase of anabolic steroids. Baker received customer funds loaded to her Green Dot and Banccorp in excess of $30,000. Baker also received customer funds loaded to her Paypal account in excess of $35,000.
Baker assisted Schweidler by making cash deposits of drug proceeds in his bank account, purchasing postage for shipping anabolic steroids to customers and by dropping off packaged anabolic steroids for shipment at U.S.P.S. locations in Kansas City. In exchange for Baker’s services, Schweidler paid her a percentage of the proceeds collected and an amount per package she shipped.
During the early stages of the conspiracy Schweidler was the leader of the conspiracy. Over time Peters also became more involved with Schweidler in purchasing supplies and assisting in the steroid manufacturing process, as well as handling online customer orders and shipping steroids to customers.
Lyne became involved in the conspiracy when Schweidler and Peters relocated the operation to the Kansas City, Mo, area, in 2013. Lyne rented a residence in the Kansas City area that was used by conspirators to manufacture the steroids. Lyne also allowed conspirators to manufacture anabolic steroids at her residence in Weston.
Eventually Schweidler turned over more operational duties to Peters, who recruited Miller to move to Kansas City to assist in the operation. In the fall of 2014, Peters and Miller took over operational responsibilities for PowerTrip and relocated the operation back to North Carolina in an effort to avoid law enforcement detection of the operation.
During the conspiracy Schweidler personally sent in excess of $176,000 in drug proceeds to China via Western Union and MoneyGram to purchase additional raw materials to manufacture anabolic steroids.
According to Schweidler’s plea agreement, a reasonable conservative estimate of the dosage units of anabolic steroids which were reasonably foreseeable to Schweidler is over 60,000 dosage units of Testosterone Propionate, Halotestin, and other anabolic steroids. This estimate is based upon the ingredients and amounts indicated in the steroid recipe notebook recovered when Peters and Miller were arrested in North Carolina.
Utilizing the least expensive raw ingredients for the manufactured finished product (Testosterone Propionate), and utilizing the known dollar amount of raw ingredients purchased by conspirators (approximately $200,000, less shipping costs), would yield nearly 1 million grams of raw materials that could manufacture approximately 90,000 vials (approximately 900,000 dosage units based upon a 10 – 100mg dosage unit per vial). PowerTrip sold this product for $25 per vial, which results in a conservative estimate of gross proceeds of at least $2.25 million in sales.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jess E. Michaelsen. It was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Department of Justice
Office of the U.S. Attorney
Western District of Missouri