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Loomis', nine others plead not guilty in steroids case

3/5/2007 - MLB NFL

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Eleven people connected to a Florida
pharmacy at the center of a nationwide investigation into the
illegal sale of steroids pleaded not guilty Monday, a growing case
that has linked the online drug network to doctors and health care
centers in at least three states.

Robert Stanley Loomis and wife Naomi, the owners of Signature
Pharmacy in Orlando, Fla., were arrested last Tuesday during a raid
in which police confiscated truck loads of drugs and other
evidence. Both are registered pharmacists in Florida. Robert
Loomis' brother, pharmacist Kenneth Michael Loomis, and Kirk
Calvert, Signature's marketing director, also were charged.

The four are charged with 20 counts each of criminal diversion
of prescription medications and prescriptions, criminal sale of a
controlled substance and insurance fraud.

Each posted bail of $30,000. All four shuffled into court,
dressed in jail jumpsuits, handcuffed and shackled.

"We hope to have them home as soon as we can so they can be
with their kids," said Dawn Tingley, the Florida lawyer
representing the Loomises and Calvert.

Claire Denise Godfrey, a doctor at an anti-aging clinic in
Orlando, pleaded not guilty to 10 counts related to the criminal
sale of a controlled substance. She posted $20,000 bail.

Godfrey's name was mentioned in an indictment filed two weeks
ago in a federal case charging the owner of a New Jersey
pharmaceutical company with health care fraud, conspiracy and
illegal drug distribution. The documents say Godfrey received a
$2,350 payment in August from the pharmacy owner.

Godfrey declined comment Monday.

Later Monday, Gary Brandwein of Boca Raton, Fla., a 44-year-old
osteopath and principal in the Florida company MedXLife was
arraigned on six counts related to the criminal sale of a
controlled substance. He pleaded not guilty and posted $10,000
bail.

Brandwein's lawyer, Terence Kindlon, acknowledged the doctor had
a business relationship with Signature.

"He's always been a very dedicated and self-sacrificing
healer," Kindlon said.

MedXLife owner Gregory Trotta and an employee, Brian Schafler,
later pleaded innocent to six counts related to criminal sale of a
controlled substance and were released after posting $10,000 bond.

After Brandwein was arraigned, Palm Beach Rejuvenation co-owner
Glen Stephanos and his brother, George Stephanos, both of Palm
Beach, Fla., entered innocent pleas to a seven-count indictment
charging them with illegally selling steroids and hormones. A
doctor employed by the company, Dr. Robert Carlson of Sarasota,
Fla., also was arraigned and pleaded not guilty. All three men
posted $1,000 bail.

Carlson's lawyer, Charles Holloman, said he first saw the
indictment Monday.

"We're not at war with the district attorney's office,"
Holloman said. "We're trying to understand what happened ... and
trying to restore my client's good name."

Prosecutors allege the Loomises sold steroids and hormones
through "their affiliate" MedXLife and through their "criminal
associate" Palm Beach Rejuvenation.

Albany County District Attorney P. David Soares, who ran the
investigation, said Signature filled prescriptions, in some cases
from unlicensed doctors, knowing they had not examined patients.
His office said at least $250,000 in illegal and controlled
substances were sold directly into Albany County, and New York
State sales exceeded $10 million.

People in three states have been arrested so far and as many as
24 could face felony charges.

Soares has said his focus is on shutting down drug distributors
and physicians writing illicit prescriptions instead of buyers.

Major league baseball players Gary Matthews Jr. and Jerry
Hairston Jr., former slugger Jose Canseco and former heavyweight
champion Evander Holyfield reportedly were on a customer list at
Applied Pharmacy in Mobile, Ala., one of the two pharmacies raided.

The NFL is looking into reports that a Pittsburgh Steelers
doctor, Richard Rydze, was on the customer list of Signature
Pharmacy in Florida, whose owners have been indicted by a grand
jury in Albany. Records showed Rydze used his personal credit card
to buy about $150,000 in testosterone and human growth hormone.