Chinese Citizens Sentenced in Scheme to Sell Mislabeled Dietary Supplements
Zhang Xiao Dong (aka “Mark Zhang”), of Shanghai, China, was sentenced in Dallas today to 24 months’ imprisonment and two years of supervised release in connection with a scheme to sell mislabeled dietary supplements, the Department of Justice announced.
Zhang was the Sales Manager for Genabolix USA, Inc. and Shanghai Yongyi Biotechnology Co., Ltd., Chinese firms that sell raw ingredients for use in dietary supplements. Zhang pleaded guilty in April 2018 in the Northern District of Texas to one count of mail fraud. Zhang’s co-defendant, Gao Mei Fang (a.k.a. Amy Gao), the Supply Chain Manager for Genabolix, was sentenced on July 17, 2018, to 12 months and a day of imprisonment after pleading guilty in April 2018.
In pleading guilty, Zhang and Gao admitted that they agreed to help sell synthetic stimulant ingredients to a purported dietary supplement manufacturer in the United States. According to an indictment returned in October 2017, Zhang, Gao, and another co-defendant agreed with a confidential government informant to either mislabel the synthetic ingredients or to otherwise help hide the true nature of a proposed dietary supplement from retailers. Zhang and Gao admitted that they knew major American dietary supplement retailers would refuse to carry supplements known to contain certain stimulants, such as DMAA. Gao also admitted to making false statements to FDA’s import division regarding a shipment of synthetic stimulants entering the United States.
“Americans must be able to trust that the products they consume are safe,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt for the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “This case shows that we will continue to prosecute those who attempt to import dangerous ingredients into the United States.”
Zhang and Gao were sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Lindsay of the Northern District of Texas. Gao and Zhang both were arrested in September 2017 while attending a dietary supplement trade show in Las Vegas. A third defendant named in the case, Hu Chang Chun, is not believed to be in the United States.
“Consumers deserve to know exactly what they’re ingesting,” said U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox of the Northern District of Texas. “We will not allow this sort of subterfuge to go unchecked in north Texas.”
“American consumers are put at risk when the true nature of ingredients for dietary supplements is hidden,” said Charles L. Grinstead, Special Agent in Charge, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations’ Kansas City Field Office. “We will continue to pursue and bring to justice those who jeopardize the public health.”
The case was investigated by FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations. The case was prosecuted by David Sullivan and Patrick R. Runkle, Trial Attorneys in the Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch, and Kate Rumsey and Douglas Brasher, Assistant United States Attorneys for the Northern District of Texas.
Additional information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its enforcement efforts may be found at http://www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch. For more information about the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas, visit its website at https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndtx.