“Dietary supplements are regulated to protect the health of American consumers,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice will prosecute individuals and corporations who sell dangerous products while misrepresenting that they are safe and legal dietary supplements.”
Phillip Braun, of Boca Raton, FL, and Aaron Singerman, of Delray Beach, FL, founded and operated Blackstone, a Boca Raton-based sports and dietary supplements retailer. Braun is the CEO and former President, and Singerman is the former CEO.
AsWholeFoods originally reported, Blackstone Labs and Ventech Labs and six individuals were originally charged with selling hundreds of thousands of illegal products—including anabolic steroids—nationwide and internationally, fraudulently claiming that the products were high-quality, legal supplements. All defendants were charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud consumers and the FDA. Braun and Singerman were charged with two counts of introducing an unapproved new drug into interstate commerce.
Now, the announcement states, Braun, Singerman, and Blackstone Labs have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and to selling unapproved new drugs. Blackstone has also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the FDA and to commit mail and wire fraud.
The defendants specifically admitted that, from 2012–2017, they conspired to sell unapproved new drugs and/or illegal controlled substances; that they falsely characterized their products as safe and legal supplements; that they falsely represented that the products were made in “FDA approved” registered facilities that followed all required regulations; and that they fraudulently imported raw ingredients for their products from China. Braun and Singerman both admitted to selling many other products in violation of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, including synthetic stimulants DMAA and DMBA, and the “nootropic” chemical picamilon. The defendants ignored injury complaints from customers and did not notify the FDA of complaints.
As part of their plea agreements, the defendants also agreed to forfeit all proceeds of these crimes, with Braun forfeiting $3 million, Singerman forfeiting $2.9 million, and Blackstone forfeiting $1 million.
Braun and Singerman are scheduled to be sentenced on January 27, 2022, in Fort Lauderdale, before U.S. District Judge William P. Dimitrouleas of the Southern District of Florida. Both face a maximum penalty of 13 years in prison. Blackstone is scheduled to be sentenced the same day.
Related: Non-Compliant Supplement Manufacturer Ordered to Stop Selling Products FDA, FTC Send Warning Letters to 10 Companies over Diabetes Claims Dietary Supplement Product Handling & Manufacturing is an Issue…and an OpportunityFour other defendants previously charged have pleaded guilty to the distribution of unapproved new drugs, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, and conspiracy to defraud the FDA. One remaining defendant is set for trial on November 23.
“Consumers who use dietary supplements expect those products to be safe. When they contain drugs that are not FDA-approved, the health of the public is put at risk,” said Acting Director Catherine A. Hermsen of the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations. “We will continue to pursue and bring to justice those who place consumers’ health in jeopardy.”