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ABINGDON, VA – A Tennessee man, who operated a business that created illegal drugs for the purpose of evading existing Food and Drug Administration laws, pleaded guilty last week in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Abingdon to a federal conspiracy charge, Acting United States Attorney Rick A. Mountcastle said in a news release.

Billy K. Groce, 65, of Knoxville, waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty to one count that charged him with conspiracy to defraud the United States by impeding, impairing obstructing and defeating the lawful functions of the Food and Drug Administration.

According to evidence presented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy Ramseyer, Groce operated a business that was created for the purpose of illegally circumventing the FDA’s regulation of the interstate shipment and labeling of veterinary drugs. Groce’s business illegally obtained, stored, sold and caused to be shipped, drugs from veterinary drug manufacturers and distributers. Groce’s business was not a licensed wholesale, a licensed pharmacy or a veterinary clinic.

Groce shipped drugs to co-conspirator Marlin Webb, who was the store manager at the Carroll County Cooperative. Webb then illegally sold the veterinary prescription drugs through the cooperative. Webb previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the FDA and was sentenced to one year of probation and paid $125,000 in forfeiture and other payments at the time of his guilty plea.

A sentencing date for Groce has not been set.

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