Smiling Bob legal action comes to an end

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition Dietary supplement Erectile dysfunction

Legal action against Steve Warshak - the owner of Berkeley Premium
Nutraceuticals - has ended after he was found guilty of misleading
customers, lying to banks and hiding profits.

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer​, Warshak could face up to 20 years in prison following a month-long trial. Federal prosecutors said Warshak made false claims in ads, ran up unauthorized charges on credit cards, and hindered consumer attempts to acquire their mail order goods. The case has been a high profile one for the dietary supplement industry and brings to light the damaging effects of false advertising, as well as the very real consequences which face firms guilty of such transgressions. Warshak had denied any wrongdoing, but a jury ruled he had committed mail, wire and bank fraud. It is thought Warshak, who was convicted last Friday, could forfeit up to $100m, most of which came from the sale of Enzyte. False claims ​ Enzyte is a herbal supplement that promised to "enhance" sexual performance. It was the firm's top selling supplement and was best know for a series of television adverts with the "Smiling Bob" character. The company had already faced numerous settlements for falsely advertising the sexual dysfunction effects of its dietary supplements. In March 2006, the herbal supplement company reached a $2.5m settlement with the attorney generals of Ohio and five other states. Then in November of that year, an Ohio judge granted a $4.7m settlement in a class-action suit representing 1.5 million customers. These customers were then entitled to refunds. Health claims ​ In a related matter last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made two US firms sign an agreement after using claims to promote their supplements and extracts which had not been approved. The FDA said both Cherry Capital Services and Brownwood Acres Foods have a history of promoting unapproved claims, such as "chemicals found in cherries may help fight diabetes."​ The terms of the consent decree mean the firms have to remove drug and unauthorized health claims from their labels, brochures and websites. FDA's enforcement sends a powerful message to the industry to make sure any health or nutrition claim is approved by the regulator before being used. Margaret Glavin, associate commissioner for regulatory affairs, said: "The FDA will not tolerate unsubstantiated health claims that may mislead consumers.​ The FDA will pursue necessary legal action to make sure companies and their executives manufacture and distribute safe, truthfully labeled products to consumer."

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