Dr. Linda Bunch, one of three people indicted on federal charges of conspiracy to smuggle and sell human growth hormones for illegal purposes, is attempting to withdraw the guilty plea she entered almost a year ago.
Bunch, chiropractor Dallas Humble and computer businessman Paul Temple were indicted in June 2010 on 22 counts of violating federal law in affiliation with the Northeast Louisiana Anti-Aging and Wellness Center.
Bunch pleaded guilty in December 2011 to the first count of the indictment in a plea deal. In July, Humble pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of aiding and abetting in the illegal distribution of HGH in an agreement with federal prosecutors.
Humble's sentencing was originally scheduled for this week, but the judge has since granted a government motion to postpone the sentencing until a decision is made on Bunch's motion to withdraw her guilty plea.
Last month, Bunch filed a motion to withdraw her plea, sayng her former attorneys pressured her into entering the plea and failed to investigate certain testimonial evidence in her favor.
Bunch withdrew her former defense attorneys in October.
The government responded Thursday with a motion in opposition to the plea withdrawal, arguing that Bunch has not provided a valid reason to withdraw her plea.
The government argues that Bunch voluntarily agreed to the plea and admitted her guilt under oath.
Additionally, the government argues that Bunch's 10-month delay in filing the motion weighs heavily against her, and it would be problematic for the court to reschedule a new trial, considering all government witnesses have since been released from subpoena.
The matter will be discussed during a hearing Dec. 14.
Count one of the indictment, and the one Bunch pleaded guilty to, alleged that from 2003 to 2008, Bunch, Humble and Temple conspired to import HGH from China that was unapproved by the Food and Drug Administration. The count also alleged the defendants conspired to possess HGH with the intent to distribute the HGH to patients at a clinic for purposes other than for treatment of medical conditions permitted under federal law.
As part of the plea deal, Bunch agreed to pay $200,000 to make up for what she obtained in proceeds from the alleged conspiracy. She faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Temple pleaded guilty in December 2010 to count 22 of the indictment, which involves the facilitation of smuggled HGH. As part of the agreement, the other counts against him were dropped.
He was sentenced in August to five years of supervised probation.
Humble faces a maximum of five years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines for each count.
As part of the plea agreement, Humble must forfeit his property on Cypress Street in West Monroe, where the clinic was located.
The Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act prohibits the knowing distribution of, or possession with intent to distribute, HGH for any use in humans other than the treatment of a disease or other recognized medical condition. Those medical conditions can include growth hormone deficiencies that can affect a child's kidneys or the severe weight loss associated with HIV.
The hormone also has been known to arrest the effects of aging, and the government alleges the co-defendants conspired to obtain HGH to use as an anti-aging treatment.