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Man sentenced to 13 years for drug sales

A judge boosts the sentence after prosecutors tell how vulnerable people were targeted with wondrous claims for deprenyl.

By JEFF TESTERMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 20, 2000


TAMPA -- James T. Kimball stood before a federal judge Thursday and insisted his decadelong manufacture and distribution of a supposed wonder drug was done out of a sense of humanity.

"Some people are alive today because of this product," said Kimball, 60, a father of two and a onetime used-car salesman from Wesley Chapel.

U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara was unmoved. Lazzara presided over the trial in May when Kimball was convicted of selling a regulated chemical compound called deprenyl.

"There has been a persistent, ongoing, intentional scheme for 10 years to circumvent the rules and regulations of the FDA and the state of Florida, which are designed for the health and safety of the public," Lazzara said. "The bottom line is that Mr. Kimball just does not respect authority. Especially when what motivates him gets in the way -- namely, the almighty dollar."

With that, Lazzara fined Kimball $25,000 and sentenced him to 13 years in prison, triple the term considered before the judge ruled that the defendant's egregious conduct warranted a series of sentencing enhancements.

Deprenyl is a prescription drug that contains a substance considered effective in the treatment of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease. The FDA says it may cause severe reactions, including toxicity, when used in combination with other drugs.

Kimball marketed deprenyl as a drug that could treat cancer, memory loss, depression and strokes. In a promotional newspaper called Inside Health, Kimball said the drug would help sexual potence and extend life span.

The Food and Drug Administration began investigating Kimball's activities in 1991, using a search warrant to seize his financial records in 1993. Investigators found that he had sold 7,772 $75 bottles of deprenyl during a 20-month period ending in May 1993. His sales for that period, counting a few hundred dollars taken in for aspirin and vitamin C, came to $583,560.

Investigators calculated that Kimball's illegal drug sales skyrocketed after he began marketing deprenyl on the Internet, and that his companies made $2.67-million from 1991 to 1999.

A federal grand jury indicted him in July 1999 on charges of conspiracy, unlawful distribution of deprenyl and making false statements on a U.S. Customs form for a shipment of 108 bottles of the drug to England. Kimball, who represented himself at his trial, was convicted of the charges on May 24.

On Thursday, attorney Michael Pasano -- hired to handle the sentencing phase for Kimball, argued that his client was no snake oil salesman, just a "true believer" who really felt his chemical product worked.

"He helped people who were suffering," Pasano said near the end of a six-hour sentencing hearing. "He acted out of goodness, not badness."

The government offered no testimony from any person who had been injured by Kimball's sales of deprenyl, and Lazzara even remarked that he had only letters from those who said they had been helped by the drug.

Federal prosecutors painted a different picture, however. They asked for enhancements to Kimball's sentence on a variety of grounds, saying Kimball had obstructed justice, perjured himself, marketed his illegal drug on a mass scale, ignored federal orders not to distribute deprenyl and targeted vulnerable victims.

"Very old people were targeted because they were running out of hope," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael T. Rubinstein. "Who is more vulnerable than an Alzheimer's patient or a cancer victim?"

Kimball already has filed a notice of appeal in this case, and he faces additional federal charges involving conspiracy to distribute deprenyl, so Pasano asked Thursday whether his client could remain free on bail while those matters run their course.

Lazzara said no, remanding Kimball immediately to the custody of federal marshals.

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