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Florida Woman Pleads Guilty to Selling Counterfeit Contact Lenses

She was importing them from China.

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A resident of Pensacola, FL, has pleaded guilty to selling counterfeit contact lenses.

Son Chu Gilliam, 51, admitted to misdemeanor charges of receipt of adulterated and misbranded devices, as well as sale of prescription devices without a prescription. Lawrence Keefe, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, announced the guilty plea.

Gilliam’s sentencing hearing is currently set for Sept. 10.

In May 2015, law enforcement seized about 600 counterfeit contact lenses that were being imported from China by Gilliam to her business, All about Ink, a tattoo shop in Pensacola, according to the announcement.

A number of the contact lenses seized were tested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and determined to contain microbial contamination. The FDA determined that the types of bacteria found in the contact lenses can be hazardous.

Between July and October 2015, law enforcement made undercover purchases of contact lenses from Gilliam and others working for her at All about Ink. A federal search warrant was then executed at All about Ink, and about 200 pairs of contact lenses were seized.

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“American consumers rely on FDA oversight to ensure the safety of their medical devices, including contact lenses. Selling counterfeit contact lenses without a valid prescription puts patients’ health – and their vision – at risk,” said H. Peter Kuehl, acting special agent in charge, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Miami Field Office. “The FDA is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to keep such products out of the U.S. marketplace.”

Gilliam “was selling substandard, dangerous counterfeit contact lenses with no regard for the health and safety of consumers,” said HSI Tampa Deputy Special Agent in Charge Kevin D. Sibley.

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