Dietary Supplement Executive Sentenced in Scheme to Fraudulently Sell Popular Dietary Supplements
A federal court in Texas sentenced a former dietary supplement company executive to prison for his role in fraudulently selling popular workout supplements, the Justice Department announced today.
On Feb. 19, 2021, U.S. District Judge Sam A. Lindsay sentenced former S.K. Laboratories Vice President Sitesh Patel, 37, of Irvine, California, to 41 months’ imprisonment and one year of supervised release. The court previously ordered Patel’s former company, S.K. Laboratories, to forfeit $6 million in connection with the case.
According to documents filed in the case, Patel played a key role in developing and manufacturing the popular workout and weight loss supplements known as Jack3d and OxyElite Pro, which were distributed by Dallas-based USPlabs. In pleading guilty in 2019 to conspiracy to introduce misbranded food into interstate commerce, Patel and several of his co-defendants admitted that they imported substances with false and misleading labeling to avoid law enforcement and regulatory agency attention. Patel also pleaded guilty to introduction of misbranded food into interstate commerce. The misbranding charges relate in part to OxyElite Pro, which was recalled in 2013 in the wake of an investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) into whether the supplement caused liver injuries in consumers. An indictment returned by a Dallas federal grand jury in 2015 against Patel and four other individuals associated with USPlabs alleged that the defendants sold some of their products without determining whether they would be safe to use.
“Consumers should not have to question whether the dietary supplements they find on store shelves will cause them physical harm,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “This case demonstrates the department’s commitment to working with our agency partners to prosecute individuals and companies that defraud the public and place consumers at risk.”
“Dietary supplement manufacturers must not be allowed to mislead the public about untested ingredients mixed into their products,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah for the Northern District of Texas. “We are proud to hold this defendant accountable for lying to the public about ingredients that had the potential to cause them harm.”
“FDA regulation of the manufacturing and distribution of dietary supplements helps ensure the safety of American consumers. Illegal schemes to subvert FDA’s oversight and trick the public into buying a product that does not meet FDA standards create a serious threat to public health,” said Judy McMeekin, Pharm.D., FDA’s Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and bring to justice those who put profits ahead of the health of U.S. consumers.”
“The defendant knowingly profited by deceiving American consumers, causing harm to them by concealing the true ingredients of a product intended to improve the very health it damaged,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Mark Pearson of the IRS-Criminal Investigation, Dallas Field Office. “Working to prosecute those people and institutions who endanger consumers is something the IRS-CI is dedicated to continuing to pursue with our partners in law enforcement.”
The court previously sentenced Jacobo Geissler, 44, of University Park, Texas, the CEO of USPlabs, to 60 months’ imprisonment, and Jonathan Doyle, 41, of Dallas, the president of USPlabs, to 24 months’ imprisonment for their roles in the fraud. The court also sentenced defendants Cyril Willson, 40, of Ralston, Nebraska, a former consultant for USPlabs, and Matthew Hebert, 42, of Dallas, a co-owner of the company, to 18 months’ and 15 months’ imprisonment, respectively. In addition, USPlabs was ordered to pay $4.7 million in criminal forfeiture.
The case was investigated by Special Agent Chad Medaris of the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations and Special Agent Larissa Wilson of the IRS-Criminal Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys David Sullivan, Patrick Runkle, and Raquel Toledo with the Consumer Protection Branch of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Errin Martin and John DelaGarza of the U.S. Attorney’s Office 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.