Slow Discovery on Drug Charges Irks FedEx

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – What FedEx knew, said and did when it shipped drugs from illegal online pharmacies will determine its guilt on 18 felony charges, but the defense team claimed in court Wednesday that prosecutors are not turning over enough relevant evidence to get the case moving.
     It has been over a month since the Justice Department added three new charges of conspiracy to launder money to a July indictment that charged FedEx with 15 counts of conspiring to distribute and sell drugs.
     The indictment says FedEx created workarounds to keep the revenues flowing after receiving at least six warnings since 2004 that illegal online pharmacies Chhabra-Smoley Organization and Superior Drugs were using its delivery service to ship prescription drugs like Ambien, Xanax and Clonazepam to drug dealers and addicts. If convicted of all counts, FedEx faces a minimum fine of $820 million.
     FedEx has claimed that it bears no legal responsibility for the 10 million packages it ships a day, and cannot possibly monitor its deliveries for controlled substances. The company pleaded not guilty Wednesday to the additional charges.
     At another hearing Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer asked prosecutors to prioritize the disclosure of evidence regarding FedEx’s knowledge and actions, calling it “essentially the heart of the case.”
     “I’m much more interested in what did FedEx know, what were they told, what did they do and what did they say,” Breyer said.
     Prosecutors told Breyer that they have already given FedEx’s lawyers 1.06 terabytes of data from its ongoing investigation. “We’re producing the stuff, they’re getting it,” U.S. Attorney Kirstin Ault said.
     FedEx lawyer Cristina Arguedas said that, while prosecutors have been cooperating with discovery requests, the bulk of the information they’ve turned over has not been useful. Arguedas added that she supports any order Breyer could give to limit the scope of the government’s disclosures.
     “We want to get the show on the road,” she said.
     Breyer ordered both sides to return to court on Dece. 11 for “a little Christmas report” on the status of the case.

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