Solicitor struck off for role in husband’s unlicensed medicines crimes

Unauthorised medicines: MHRA picture of some of the drugs recovered

A solicitor caught up in her husband’s supply of unauthorised medicines and controlled drugs, as well as money laundering, has been struck off.

Paulina Marianna Jastrzebska received a suspended prison sentence in 2022 after pleading guilty to possessing criminal property.

The 43-year-old, who qualified in 2017, accepted before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) that, after becoming aware of what her husband was doing, she chose not to take any action and instead continued to benefit from it.

The convictions of Ms Jastrzebska and her husband, Michal Lejmel, followed an investigation by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which seized 238,623 doses of medicines not licensed in the UK to treat a range of conditions, such as Hepatitis C, ADHD erectile dysfunction and narcolepsy; 51 were human growth hormones, controlled class C drugs. They were valued at £250,000.

The prosecution alleged that Mr Lejmel was involved in international conspiracies to supply a variety of unauthorised medicines for over two and a half years, generating at least £563,000 for him. He was accused of being the mastermind behind the laundering of the proceeds.

He was sentenced at Bournemouth Crown Court to three years and four months imprisonment after pleading guilty to two counts of conspiracy to supply unauthorised medicines, one count of conspiracy to supply a controlled class C drug, one count of transferring criminal property and two counts of possession of a false identity document with improper intention.

The only comment Mr Lejmel made when interviewed by police was that his wife was not involved.

Nonetheless, Ms Jastrzebska pleaded guilty under section 329(1) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 of possessing criminal property, in that she received £63,770 and €21,955, knowing or suspecting it to represent, in whole or part and whether directly or indirectly, the proceeds of criminal conduct.

She was sentenced to four months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, a two-month curfew and the forfeiture and destruction of controlled drugs.

The prosecution said that, by the time the couple were under surveillance by the MHRA, Ms Jastrzebska was fully aware of the nature of her husband’s activities.

For example, on the day before her arrest, she was seen to enter the main storage facility he used and remained there for just over 30 minutes before leaving with Mr Lejmel carrying bags.

The prosecution said she had worked in the pharmaceutical industry before qualifying as a solicitor, and this background must have caused heightened suspicion as to both the legitimacy of the payments into her accounts and the nature of her husband’s trade in medicines.

It noted that the basis of her plea suggested that she was involved through exploitation by her husband.

Ms Jastrzebska accepted that she should be struck off in an agreement with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

It quoted the sentencing remarks of His Honour Judge Stephen Climie, who acknowledged that she did not initially know what her husband was doing but then became aware and “had the benefit, albeit compared to his, the limited benefit, of some of the funds that were coming through the family unit as a result of his transactions and business dealings”.

He continued: “Having become aware of these matters, you chose not to do anything about it. I accepted, reading everything I have read about you, particularly the report of [a consultant psychiatrist], that you were in all likelihood in a limited position in terms of actually having the ability to report and the matter and the like.”

The SRA said that, though the judge’s remarks did not expand beyond this, “they allude to potential pressure or coercion on Ms Jastrzebska”.

Approving the agreement, the SDT said: “[Ms Jastrzebska’s] misconduct could only be viewed as extremely serious and this fact, together with the need to protect the reputation of the legal profession, required that strike off from the roll was the only appropriate sanction.”

Leave a Comment

By clicking Submit you consent to Legal Futures storing your personal data and confirm you have read our Privacy Policy and section 5 of our Terms & Conditions which deals with user-generated content. All comments will be moderated before posting.

Required fields are marked *
Email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


A two-point plan to halve the size of the SRA

I have joked for many years that you could halve the size (and therefore cost) of the Solicitors Regulation Authority overnight by banning both client account and sole practitioners.

Key cyber and data security questions to ask a legal IT provider

One of the growing priorities that law firms face when considering a legal technology provider is cyber and data security, such as their responsibilities and cyber incident management.

Navigating carer’s leave: A personal journey and call for change

The Carer’s Leave Act 2023, which came into force on 6 April 2024, was a pivotal moment for the UK. It allows workers to take up to five unpaid days off a year to carry out caring responsibilities.

Loading animation