The founder of Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals, Steve Warshak, has this morning been handed a 25-year jail sentence and his company ordered to forfeit $500 million by a federal court that found him guilty on 93 counts of conspiracy, fraud and money laundering.
The federal jury in Cincinnati, Ohio convicted Warshak, his 75-year-old mother and a number of associates for participating in a â€œschemeâ€ that deceived thousands of consumers that had bought the companyâ€™s male sexual enhancement products under false pretenses.
The product in question, Enzyte, promised sexual enhancement, and featured TV advertisements featuring â€˜Smiling Bobâ€™, a happy man with an exaggerated smile because his problems â€˜down belowâ€™ had supposedly been remedied.
Veteran Colorado-based food-industry lawyer, James R Prochnow, of the firm Greenberg Traurig, said the verdict did not mean further prosecutions would follow, but sent a clear message to the dietary supplements industry that misleading claims could result in harsh penalties.
â€œThis is the most significant decision in the history of the dietary supplements industry,â€ he told NutraIngredients-USA.com. â€œIt is a substantial departure from previous sentencing and sends a clear message to industry that transgressions of this nature will be harshly dealt with.â€
The case demonstrated the importance of solid scientific backing for claims, Prochnow said, backing that was not in place for the kind of male sexual enhancement products in question here.
â€œThere is nothing typical about this prosecution or the sentence imposed by the federal judge,â€ he added.