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Titan Pharma UGL Owner Found Dead in New Zealand
April 22nd, 2020
Phil Musson is dead eight years after the government sentenced him to prison and seized all his assets.
Phillip Musson, the owner and operator of the defunct underground steroid laboratories known as Titan Pharma and CN Pharma, was found dead at his rural Little River home located south of Christchurch, New Zealand. Musson was 50 years old.
Sarah Illingworth, a Detective Senior Sergeant with the New Zealand Police, said that Musson was found by his wife sitting slumped over on his motorcycle. Foul play was not suspected. The immediate cause of death was not known although Musson was reportedly in poor health.
Musson sold steroids from the following UGLs: Titan Pharma, CN Pharma, and Phoenix Biotech.
Musson enjoyed some success selling Titan Pharma- and CN Pharma- branded anabolic steroids in the early 2010s. Police investigators documented $795,958 NZD in unexplained income between April 2010 and March 2013.
Musson’s success as a UGL operator was short-lived. Musson was targeted after the New Zealand Customs Service first intercepted a package containing steroids in November 2011. The police launched Operation Adder which ultimately intercepted another 17 packages addressed to him. Musson was arrested in May 2012.
Musson continued to import and sell steroids under the brand Phoenix Biotech while he was on bail. The decision was consistent with Musson’s recklessness as a steroid dealer. He reportedly aggressively marketed and sold steroids to potential customers. These strategies included soliciting sales by sending mass bulk text message to potential customers.
In 2014, Musson was sentenced to four years and five months in prison after pleading guilty to 182 violations of the New Zealand Medicines Act. While he was in prison, the government seized practically everything he owned under the NZ Criminal Proceeds Recovery Act.
STEROID DEALER: Philip Musson during sentencing at the Auckland District Court
The asset forfeiture amounted to several hundred thousand dollars in assets including his motorcycle, vehicle, bars of gold and silver, and cash. Most notably, the government seized Musson’s family home in Bishopdale. The seizure left his wife and mother-in-law homeless.
Musson and his family had since rented and live on the rural property in Little River. His only reported recent source of income was from selling firewood at the time of his death. However, police are investigating the possibility that he was operating a methamphetamine lab on the property.
ARREST AND FALLOUT
A former Christchurch bodybuilder has been sentenced to nearly four and a half years imprisonment for masterminding the importation, selling and distribution of steroids and party pills.
Phillip James Musson was sentenced in the Auckland District Court this morning for 182 Medicines Act charges dating back to 2011 as well as three separate charges of importing and selling a class C drug and supplying a class B drug, namely methadone, between January and May, 2012.
The court heard that Musson, a former bodybuilder and personal trainer, was left depressed and financially bereft following the Christchurch earthquakes which had destroyed his business.
He hatched a plan to import prescription medications which he picked up from post shops around the country using fake identification.
Musson and his co offender, Rodney Leonard Bailey, manufactured the medicines and sold them as anabolic steroids and testosterone to fellow body builders.
The estimated street value of the drugs they were caught with was $121,000 and Bailey was sentenced to seven months home detention last year.
In a similar operation Musson also imported 17kg of a class C drug, an ingredient which was used to manufacture a party pill similar to ecstasy but without the MDMA ingredient.
Crown prosecutor Michael Walker said the party pills were sold at $40 a pop, netting Musson and co-offender Chetan Jethwa $55,000 per week at its peak.
Walker described the party pill offending as "large scale and pre-meditated" and its effects were "immeasurable" while the Ministry of Health's representative Kathy Bell said his steroid supply operation was "sophisticated" and had put the people who took them at risk although she noted no formal complaints or notifications had been made to the ministry by users.
Bell reminded Judge Philippa Cunningham that Musson had received diversion in 2006 for similar offences which she said mitigated any subsequent show of remorse.
She disputed suggestions that his personal circumstances due to the earthquake would make him eligible for a sentence discount, saying it wouldn't be appropriate.
"This wasn't a one off, it wasn't a lapse of judgement, this was sustained offending," she said.
"This cannot be regarded as a pressure from living in Christchurch, simply everyone in Christchurch has had it tough."
Musson's lawyer Simon Clay said the earthquake wasn't an excuse but with a mortgage to pay and a family to feed it was "certainly a rational explanation" for offending at 44 years of age which he described as unusual.
He agreed imprisonment was appropriate but asked Judge Cunningham to take into account that both Musson's co offenders were given sentences of home detention and community service.
Musson had also been given two good character references from a Mt Eden prison chaplain and a Christchurch Men's Prison corrections officer who both said Musson had been a good worker and a good influence on other inmates.
Due to a deferred sentencing because of a lack of court availability in Auckland Musson had been incarcerated at Mt Eden prison since December where he was unable to receive visits from family members which had a "punitive effect", Clay said.
Clay asked for consideration to be given to his client's guilty pleas, his remorse and personal circumstances.
In her summing up Judge Cunningham noted Musson was the mastermind of both operations and his co-offenders were younger and responding to his instructions.
She said the Medicines Act was in place to prevent people ingesting unapproved medications made in unsafe conditions however noted that the supply had been taken by fellow body builders who knew what they were doing.
"It seems to me that Mr Musson being a body builder was selling these products to other body builders ... Who knew what they were doing and knew some of the risks they were running."
She took into account his guilty pleas and signs of remorse which included a letter Musson had written to the court which said "there is nothing I can do to justify my offending" and that after the earthquake "everything went down hill and things spiralled out of control".
Judge Cunningham said she gave "some context" to what appeared to be an out of character activity for him, being the destruction of his business following the earthquakes, and said he was unlikely to reoffend.
She cumulatively sentenced him to four years, five months and three weeks imprisonment, ordered the forfeiture and destruction of all the items seized by the Ministry of Health during their investigation and ordered Musson to pay the Ministry $16,353 for costs incurred for the testing of the various substances seized.
Sources: Ensor, B. & Sherwood, S. (April 22, 2020). Police investigate possible meth lab after steroid dealer ‘Dr Phil’ found dead. Retrieved from stuff.co.nz/national/crime/121178834/police-investigate-possible-meth-lab-after-steroid-dealer-dr-phil-found-dead