February 13, 2011
Paralympic curling champ’s son headed to U.S. jail
By BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency
The Richmond, B.C. skip of Canada’s gold medal curling rink at the Vancouver Paralympics is expected to be fined Monday in a Seattle courtroom, but his son could be jailed until 2012.
A United States Food and Drug Administration agent busted Jim Armstrong, 60, with a box containing 2,544 fake Viagra pills and 260 fake Cialis pills from China on April 15, 2010 at a Blaine, Wash. postal outlet. Armstrong admitted they were going to be smuggled across the border for his son Gregory James Armstrong, 29, to sell in Vancouver nightclubs.
The maximum penalty for trafficking counterfeit drugs is 10-years in jail and a $2 million fine, but the father and son avoided trial with an Oct. 21, 2010 plea bargain. A $50,000 fine and credit for jail time served was recommended for Jim Armstrong. Prosecution and defence lawyers both recommend Judge Ricardo Martinez sentence Gregory Armstrong to one year and one day in jail.
Court filings say the pills would have been worth $44,672.56 if they were genuine. Gregory Armstrong told an undercover agent that he charged $15 each for sex pills and he sold them for three years.
“Armstrong enjoyed a very healthy cash business, unfortunately an illegal one,” said prosecutor Jenny Durkan’s sentencing memorandum.
“The government cannot identify which family member actually controls the assets and funds related to the illegal conduct.”
The Armstrongs’ post office box received 22 similar shipments over 12 months. An investigation by Viagra maker Pfizer found Gregory Armstrong used pseudonyms “Blue Man” and “Michael B.” in online ads. Evidence includes a flyer advertising Richmond and South Vancouver as pick-up locations.
Jim Armstrong was a successful, veteran able-bodied curler and dentist until a serious car crash led to his 2003 bankruptcy. He became a wheelchair curler in 2007. Wife Carleen was diagnosed with incurable breast cancer in 2006 and died in 2009.
Defence filings say the charges caused Gregory Armstrong to be “banned” from the University of B.C. where he studied sports medicine and kinesiology since 2006. He works at a Richmond medical supply company and lives with his father and 86-year-old grandmother Betty, who suffers from dementia.