A Baltimore County man who once was known on the dark web as the “Xanaxman,” selling thousands of knockoff Xanax pills, received s 57-month sentence Friday in federal court in Baltimore.
U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake sentenced Ryan Farace at the top of the federal sentencing guidelines, but chose not to give him another three months requested by the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“Obviously this is a very serious offense,” Blake said, noting the amount and duration of the scheme.
Farace, 34, of Sparks and Reisterstown, pleaded guilty to selling nearly a million counterfeit Xanax pills between November 2013 and June 2017. In exchange, prosecutors said he received more than $5 million in the the digital currency Bitcoin.
Blake told Farace she appreciated his cooperation with authorities and his acceptance of responsibility.
“It’s a tragedy in a way that his intelligence and skill would turn to this use,” Blake said.
Farace pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute Alaprazolam, and the remaining four counts against him were dropped.
According to his plea, Farace bought pill presses, counterfeit “Xanax” pill molds, pill dye and Alprazolam — the generic form of Xanax, a sedative to treat anxiety and panic disorders — to make a product that looked like Xanax pills, which were shipped all over the country.
His attorney, Warren Brown, had asked for the lower-end of the sentencing guidelines of 46 months. Brown said his client is not a career criminal who is likely to re-offend.
“He’s already paid a price. It’s been painful for him,” Brown said.
Brown also noted how his client forfeited assets seized as a result of the investigation, including approximately $1.5 million in cash and approximately $2.5 million in computer equipment.
After the hearing, Brown said he was “pleased” with the sentence. In the federal system, the sentencing guidelines for crimes involving Xanax are less stringent than other drugs such has heroin.
Farace appeared in court in maroon scrubs. He kept his hands by his side as he briefly addressed the judge before she handed down the sentence.
“I’m sorry for all of my actions,” he said.
His co-defendant, Robert Swain, 34, of Freeland, has pleaded guilty to money laundering and faces 20 years. He is scheduled for sentencing Jan. 25.
“Federal law enforcement and our international partners are working together to find and prosecute those who use the dark web to sell drugs and launder the proceeds of their drug dealing,” U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur said in a statement. “The sentence imposed today demonstrates that committing crimes through the dark web does not protect you from prosecution. We will find you and we will prosecute you.”