A Smithfield couple has been indicted for a $2.25 million internet steroids distribution ring in Missouri.
Aaron Vincent Schweidler, 31, and Nicole R. Lyne, 26, both of Smithfield, NC, formerly of Weston, Missouri, Michael G. Peters, 27, of Pelham, New Hampshire, and Samuel C. Miller IV, 29, of Annapolis, Maryland, were charged in a nine-count indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Missouri on Tuesday.
That indictment was unsealed and made public Friday upon the arrests of Lyne and Schweidler in Smithfield and of Peters in Boston. Miller remains a fugitive from justice.
The federal indictment alleges that four suspects conspired to manufacture and distribute anabolic steroids, commit money laundering and debit card fraud. The four co-defendants are also charged with three counts of debit card fraud and three counts of aggravated identity theft.
The indictment alleges the conspiracy began in December, 2011 when the suspects began operating an Internet-based company, Power Trip, which sold various anabolic steroids to customers throughout the United States. Their customers, according to the indictment, included athletes and minors.
According to the indictment, Lyne and Schweidler frequently utilized the US Postal Service Office at 6304 N.W. Barry Road in Kansas City to ship packages to their customers. Some of the packages listed a return address for “Hype Electronics & Game Super Store,” the indictment says, but actually contained vials marked with a Power Trip label that contained anabolic steroids.
Conspirators allegedly used stolen identities including names, Social Security numbers and birth dates, which they either purchased or stole from victims themselves 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.
Over $188,000 was reportedly transferred outside the United States to China, via MoneyGram and Western Union, to purchase the raw materials and other supplies to manufacture anabolic steroids.
The indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation, which would require the co-defendants to forfeit to the government any property derived from the proceeds of the alleged illegal drug trafficking, including a money judgment of at least $2.25 million.
Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
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.