Escambia Woman Pleads Guilty To Selling Fake Contact Lenses

June 28, 2019

An Escambia County woman has pleaded guilty to selling fake contact lenses.

Son Chu Gilliam, 52, entered the plea in federal court Thursday to misdemeanor charges of receipt of adulterated and misbranded devices, and sale of prescription devices without a prescription — those devices being contact lenses.

In May 2015, law enforcement seized approximately 600 counterfeit contact lenses that were being imported from China by Gilliam to her place of business, All about Ink, a tattoo shop in Pensacola. A number of the contact lenses seized were tested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and determined to contain microbial contamination. FDA has determined that the types of bacteria found in the contact lenses can be hazardous.

Between July 2015, and October 2015, law enforcement made a number of undercover purchases of contact lenses from Gilliam and others working for Gilliam at All about Ink. Following the undercover purchases, a federal search warrant was executed at All about Ink, and approximately 200 pairs of contact lenses were seized. Samples of both the contact lenses purchased by undercover agents, and the contact lenses seized were tested by FDA, and a number of those also contained microbial contamination. In addition to agents determining that a number of the contact lenses were counterfeit and FDA determining that a number of the contact lenses were contaminated and that none of the contact lenses should have been sold without a prescription.

“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 Acting Special Agent in Charge, H. Peter Kuehl, 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.”

“This criminal 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. “Our agents are committed to collaborating with partner agencies, like U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Florida Department of Health, to conduct aggressive investigations into the distribution of fake goods that threaten the safety of our public.”

Gilliam’s sentencing is set for September.

Comments

4 Responses to “Escambia Woman Pleads Guilty To Selling Fake Contact Lenses”

  1. Anne on June 29th, 2019 6:51 am

    WOW Reading from the article above:
    “Son Chu Gilliam, 52, entered the plea in federal court Thursday to misdemeanor charges of receipt of adulterated and misbranded devices, and sale of prescription devices without a prescription — those devices being contact lenses.”

    HOW in the WORLD can something that could potentially cause Eye Injury, Infection or in worse case Blindness be considered a “..misdemeanor…”???

    Second thing of Amazement is the investigations were in 2015 ??
    Why did it take 4 years to do something? Good Grief.

    Many Tattoo Joints have sleazy reputations now apparently for good reason.

  2. IDK on June 28th, 2019 12:03 pm

    On one hand she was breaking the law… on the other hand, I would think if you are buying your contact lens from a tattoo/head shop, flea market, or halloween costume shop, you can assume they were probably imported from China, and buyer beware. I wonder if anyone actually had any problems with them? Yup, don’t threaten any of the US medical industry with cheaper alternatives… quickest way to get in trouble!

  3. Kane on June 28th, 2019 11:54 am

    @ Escambia resident ……Well if you bought them from a tattoo shop they might be fake. Also who would buy prescription contacts from a tattoo parlor?? Also also I for one will never patronize “All about ink” what she did is a gross breech of public trust.

  4. Escambia resident on June 28th, 2019 1:51 am

    Unreal! I would have never thought that my contacts could be fake. Glad they caught this per, great job!





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