Supplement Retailers Plead Guilty in Cases Involving Distribution of Designer Steroids as Dietary Supplements
Two men and a California business each pleaded guilty this week to conspiring to distribute consumer products that contained designer anabolic steroids.
Justin Smith, 35, of Batesville, Arkansas, pleaded guilty on May 18, 2021, to one count of conspiring to sell controlled substances. According to court documents, Smith admitted that he sold designer steroids that he marketed as “dietary supplements.” Smith further admitted knowing that the unlawful distribution of designer steroids was subject to criminal penalties under the Designer Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2014 (DASCA), which amended the Controlled Substances Act to include designer steroids. Smith owned Legendary Supplements, an online store whose most profitable products contained anabolic steroids. Smith admitted to distributing more than 60,000 capsules of illegal steroids to consumers in 2015 and 2016.
In a separate but related case, Leonard Shemtob, 39, of Los Angeles, California, pleaded guilty on May 19, 2021, to one count of conspiring to sell controlled substances. According to court documents, Shemtob owned and controlled Strong Supplements LLC, an online company that sold bodybuilding supplements containing designer steroids. Shemtob admitted that he also knew that the distribution of such products was illegal under the Controlled Substances Act and DASCA. Shemtob’s company, Strong Supplements LLC, also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to sell controlled substances.
“Dietary supplement products that contain steroids are illegal controlled substances,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice will prosecute individuals and companies who ignore the law and put consumers at risk.”
“This week’s actions represent our continued commitment to pursuing and bringing to justice those who mislead the public and attempt to subvert the regulatory functions of the FDA,” said Assistant Commissioner for Criminal Investigations Catherine A. Hermsen of the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations.
Both defendants pleaded guilty in Ft. Lauderdale before U.S. District Judge William P. Dimitrouleas of the Southern District of Florida. Smith is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 12, and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Shemtob and Strong Supplements LLC are scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 6. Shemtob faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Strong Supplements LLC faces a maximum penalty of five years of probation and a $2,500,000 fine. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
According to court documents, Smith and Shemtob both stated that they purchased the designer steroids they sold from Blackstone Labs LLC, a corporation based in Boca Raton, Florida. Blackstone Labs and seven other defendants were previously charged by indictment in connection with a conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. One defendant in that case pleaded guilty in 2019, and the remaining defendants are set for trial on Oct. 12, 2021.
The FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigation investigated the cases.
Trial Attorneys Alistair Reader and Steven Gripkey, Senior Litigation Counsel David Frank, and Assistant Director John W. Burke of the Justice Department’s Consumer Protection Branch are prosecuting the cases with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.