Septmber 24th, 2020 – 11:37 AM
Irfanali Momin and Shiba I. Momin a/k/a Saguftabanu Momin, husband and wife, have each pleaded guilty to naturalization fraud, and conspiring to illegally import misbranded drug products from China, receive misbranded drugs that had moved in interstate commerce, and to trafficking of counterfeit goods.
“These defendants profited by taking a shortcut—one that could have had devastating consequences for individuals who purchased these products,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “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.”
“The health and safety of American consumers are placed at risk when they are unknowingly exposed to undeclared active pharmaceutical ingredients in misbranded drugs that are falsely labeled as dietary supplements,” said Special Agent in Charge Justin C. Fielder, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Miami Field Office. “FDA remains committed to pursuing those who endanger the U.S. public health by importing and distributing fraudulent and potentially dangerous products.”
“Whether it is lying to illegally gain citizenship or illegally importing and selling misbranded pharmaceuticals, Homeland Security Investigations will aggressively pursue those that seek to profit from those fraudulent and dangerous activities,” said acting Special Agent in Charge Robert Hammer, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama. “The Momins will now face the consequences for their actions thanks to the diligent efforts of all our partners on the Atlanta Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force.”
“The arrest of this couple essentially stopped the flow of illegal products throughout the Southeast that were sold to hundreds of stores and ultimately customers whose health was threatened by using them,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI is committed to working with our federal partners to make sure our citizens are protected from those who would choose to do them harm.”
According to U.S. Attorney Pak, 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 names such as “Black Ant King,” “Bull,” “Rhino 7,” “Super Hard,” “Jack Rabbit,” “Zhen Gongfu,” “Stree Overlord,” “Pro Power Max,” “Libigrow,” “Red Mamba,” “Rhino 69,” “Krazzy Rhino,” “Rhino 25,” Hard Steel,” and “Black Mamba.” 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.
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.
Irfanali Momin, 48, and Shiba I. Momin a/k/a Saguftabanu Momin, 42, both of Dahlonega, Georgia, were convicted on September 23, 2020 after pleading guilty to a criminal information. Sentencing for the Momins is scheduled for January 7, 2021, at 11:00 a.m., before U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones. The Momins were originally arrested on January 8, 2020 after a grand jury returned a multi-count Indictment against them. As a consequence of their guilty pleas to naturalization fraud, Judge Jones will sign an order following sentencing that revokes their U.S. citizenship.
This case is being 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 is prosecuting the case.