GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN – U.S. Attorney Patrick A. Miles, Jr. announced today that Brian Francis Conover, 35, of Richland, Michigan, was sentenced to serve 15 months in federal custody. He was also ordered to pay $13,396 in restitution to Meijer Stores and will serve a year under court supervision after he is released from prison.
On November 3, 2014, Conover pleaded guilty to adulterating dietary supplements. From July 27, 2014 to August 15, 2014, he purchased over-the-counter dietary supplements from Meijer stores located in Kalamazoo, Allegan, and Calhoun counties. He then removed and substituted the contents of the pill bottles and returned the bottles to the store shelves, which he had repackaged and resealed in the original product boxes. The over-the-counter dietary supplements included Schiff Mega Red Omega-3 Krill Oil, Bayer Women’s One-A-Day, and Nature’s Bounty Biotin. Once discovered, Meijer removed all of the products from its shelves in the affected counties. Law enforcement officials examined the packages, bottles, and contents and discovered foreign substances, including pet food, raisins, chocolate chips, aspirin, prescription strength pain medication, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, and the prescription drugs Coumadin and Sotalol. Coumadin is a blood thinner and Sotalol is a medication to regulate heartbeats. Upon executing a search warrant on Conover’s apartment, on August 28, 2014, law enforcement found large quantities of the over-the-counter products, packaging, and bottles. Conover was arrested on September 2, 2014, and has remained in custody.
In imposing sentence, Chief U.S. District Judge Paul L. Maloney expressed dismay at Conover’s lack of concern for others and noted that Coumadin could be fatal if taken by the wrong person. Judge Maloney stated that Conover does what he wants to do with little or no concern for others and the rules. Judge Maloney further stated that the dollar amount loss did not fully reflect the impact on the public and Meijer.
U.S. Attorney Miles echoed Judge Maloney’s concerns, “Tampering with over-the-counter supplements and adulterating food can seriously harm or even kill people. Conover’s criminal actions were a blow to our trust and confidence in what we consume and put in our bodies. Americans rightfully demand that trust and confidence. Along with our federal and state law enforcement partners, we will vigorously investigate and prosecute this sort of criminal behavior.”
The sentence imposed by the court in this matter reflects the seriousness of the potential harm the defendant’s actions could have inflicted on innocent consumers,” said Special Agent in Charge John J. Redmond, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI) Chicago Field Office. “OCI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to pursue those who choose to put the public health at risk for their own personal gain.”
Investigation of this case was conducted by the FBI, Food and Drug Administration – Office of Criminal Investigations, Portage Public Safety, Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department, with the assistance of FBI and FDA-OCI in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Assistant United States Attorney Daniel Mekaru prosecuted the case.