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SALT LAKE CITY -- A woman who helped distribute drugs through Internet pharmacies pleaded guilty in federal court Monday. Federal prosecutors say this is a case that highlights the prevalence of prescription drug use.
In court, Christina Haramija pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute phentermine. She was one of 18 people, including a Utah County doctor, indicted in 2008 for distributing drugs through Internet pharmacies.
Federal prosecutors say Haramija was the owner of Brinks Pharmacy. When customers did not have a prescription for the diet pill phentermine, she would refer the them to people who ran two websites: LighthouseMeds.com or FederalMeds.com.
People could get the drug without a prescription from those rogue websites. Haramija got a referral payment of $9.95 for each prescription.
Federal prosecutors say buying drugs this way proved to be very dangerous.
"We have evidence in this case that people who bought controlled substances from these websites overdosed and died," says Robert Lund, assistant U.S. Attorney for Utah.
Authorities say other drugs like Ritalin, Xanax and Valium were also illegally distributed all over the world through the websites. They say the people who bought them intended to abuse those drugs.
James Brinton, the Utah County doctor also charged, is expected to plead guilty later this month.
Prosecutors say Haramija was one of the people on the bottom end of the conspiracy. As part of her guilty plea, she will spend 10 months in federal prison. A judge will sentence her in July.