DOJ indicts six individuals and two firms for illegally selling drugs as dietary supplements

March 15, 2019

Six individuals and two corporations based in Palm Beach County, FL, were indicted by the Department of Justice on March 7, 2019, for illegally marketing drugs, such as anabolic steroids, as dietary supplements. 

Six individuals and two corporations based in Palm Beach County, FL, were indicted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on March 7, 2019, for illegally marketing drugs, such as anabolic steroids, as dietary supplements. The 14-count indictment charged the following: Phillip Braun, 38, of Boca Raton, FL; Aaron Singerman, 39, of Delray Beach, FL; Robert DiMaggio, 49, of Henderson, NV; Anthony Ventrella, 41, of Boynton Beach, FL; David Winsauer, 32, of Boca Raton, FL; and James Boccuzzi, 34, of Parkland, FL. The two companies charged were Blackstone Labs and Ventech Labs.

Products such as Super DMZ RX 2.0 containing dimethazine and methylstenbolone, types of designer steroids, and Ostapure, containing ostarine, a SARM, were allegedly sold by Blackstone and manufactured and distributed by a number of LLCs (Fight Pharm, VBS Laboratories, and Ventech Labs, charged in the indictment) established by the defendants Braun and Singerman. The establishment of these LLCs, the DOJ alleges, were active measures to shield Blackstone from the scrutiny of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by shifting the sales of the drugs from Blackstone to the LLCs. According to the indictment, Braun and Singerman, the founders and owners of Blackstone, directed Ventrella to be the nominal owner and CEO of Fight Pharm, which eventually dissolved and was succeeded by VBS. VBS was thereafter subsequently dissolved and replaced by Ventech.

In advertisements, says the indictment, Blackstone falsely claimed that its products were manufactured in an “FDA approved, registered, and inspected facility that maintains GMP [Good Manufacturing Practices] certifications and follows all FDA guidelines.” Another advertisement claimed: “Our pro-anabolic compounds are all third-party independently lab tested before encapsulation.”

Among other serious offenses, DOJ alleges that Blackstone sold hundreds of thousands of illegal products, ignored customer complaints of serious illness resulting from consuming its products, and lied to FDA about ceasing the sale and distribution of a product when FDA sent Blackstone a warning letter.

“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 Catherine A. Hermsen, acting director, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations, in a press release. “We will continue to pursue and bring to justice those who place consumers’ health in jeopardy.”

If found guilty, the defendants could face serious jail time and/or large fines. For example, Braun, Singerman, and six other defendants face one count of conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids – Schedule III controlled substances – which carries a maximum punishment of 15 years in prison, and a $500,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.