Saturday, April 13, 2002

Fake-Viagra verdict due Tuesday

Pills hidden in teddy bears

By Janice Morse,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Butler County Common Pleas Judge Matthew Crehan on Friday stepped off the bench to get a close look at an unusual piece of trial evidence: a teddy bear.

        Judge Crehan stuck his hand inside the back of the bear, where authorities say they found fake Viagra pills being smuggled from China. The Butler County Sheriff's Office confiscated six of the large, white plush bears with the help of the U.S. Customs Service.

        Hassib Selbak, 50, of Liberty Township, and his brother-in-law, Nassim F. Nwaisser, 37, are on trial in an alleged Internet scheme involving sales of look-alikes of the popular anti-impotency drug.

        After testimony concluded Friday, Judge Crehan said he would announce his decision Tuesday, Assistant Prosecutor Craig Hedric said.

        Viagra, a blue, football-shaped pill, is trademarked by Pfizer Pharmaceuticals of New York City. Pfizer and Ohio Board of Pharmacy investigators alerted Butler County authorities that they had discovered someone from the county was advertising bogus Viagra for sale on the Internet.

        Sheriff's agent Randy Lambert met with Mr. Selbak and Mr. Nwaisser in September and Mr. Selbak offered to sell 20 cases of the pills for $100,000. Authorities found pill-bottling supplies, including Viagra labels, at Mr. Selbak's home. They also confiscated Mr. Selbak's bank records, which officers say showed transactions involving the scheme.

        Each defendant was indicted in October on two counts of trademark counterfeiting and a count of sale or distribution of a dangerous drug. If convicted as charged, each man would face a potential sentence of 4 1/2 years.


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