by Ivan Foley
Nine criminal charges are alleged by federal authorities against two former Weston residents, the U.S. Attorney’s Office confirmed late last week.
The Weston couple and two men from New Hampshire and Maryland have been indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in what authorities allege is at least a $2.25 million conspiracy scheme to sell anabolic steroids over the internet to customers that included athletes and minors.
Nicole R. Lyne, 26, and Aaron V. Schweidler, 31, both formerly of Weston and now of Smithfield, N.C., Michael G. Peters, 27, of Pelham, N.H.; and Samuel C. Miller IV, 29, of Annapolis, Md., were charged in a nine-count indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Kansas City on Tuesday, Feb. 2.
That indictment was unsealed and made public Thursday upon the arrests of Lyne and Schweidler in Smithfield, N.C. and of Peters in Boston, Mass. As of Thursday Miller remained a fugitive from justice.
Law enforcement authorities in Smithfield, a city of about 12,000 residents in central North Carolina, confirmed the arrests of the former Weston residents.
Much of the alleged illegal activity, including shipping of the anabolic steroids and alleged identify theft, occurred in Platte County, according to information contained in the indictment.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “anabolic steroids” is the familiar name for synthetic variants of the male sex hormone testosterone. The proper term for these compounds is anabolic-androgenic steroids (abbreviated AAS)—“anabolic” referring to muscle-building and “androgenic” referring to increased male sexual characteristics.
Anabolic steroids can be legally prescribed to treat conditions resulting from steroid hormone deficiency, such as delayed puberty, as well as diseases that result in loss of lean muscle mass.
But according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, some athletes, bodybuilders, and others abuse these drugs in an attempt to enhance performance and/or improve their physical appearance.
The federal indictment alleges that Lyne, Schweidler, Peters and Miller participated in a conspiracy to manufacture and distribute anabolic steroids, a conspiracy to commit money laundering and a conspiracy to commit 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 to manufacture and distribute anabolic steroids began on Dec. 30, 2011 and continued “until on or about the date of this indictment,” which was Feb. 2, 2016.
Conspirators allegedly operated an Internet-based company, Power Trip, which sold various anabolic steroids to customers throughout the United States.
According to the indictment, Lyne and Schweidler frequently utilized the U.S. Postal Service station at 6304 N.W. Barry Road, Kansas City in Platte County, 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 allegedly stole from victims themselves) to produce or obtain debit cards, such as Green Dot MoneyPak, MyVanilla, ReloadIT, NetSpend ReloadIT and BlackHawk.
They allegedly required their customers to send payments to these cards in order to conceal and disguise the proceeds of the illegal transactions.
Conspirators also allegedly transferred over $188,000 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.
The indictment details the charges to include one count of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute anabolic steroids, a Class C felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison; one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, a Class C felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison; one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud, a Class D felony punishable by up to five years in prison; three counts of access device fraud, a Class C felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison; and three counts of aggravated identity theft, a Class E felony punishable by up to two years in prison.
The indictment identifies the victims of the alleged aggravated identity theft by initials only. The two victims are referred to in the indictment as KK and JR.
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.