Phillip “PJ” Braun of Boca Raton, FL, Blackstone’s CEO and former President, and Aaron Singerman of Delray Beach, FL, the former CEO of Blackstone, admitted to leading a conspiracy to sell products through Blackstone that were labeled as dietary supplements but were actually controlled substances or drugs that were not approved by the FDA.
Blackstone made the same admissions. The company also admitted to having defrauded the FDA and consumers by selling illegal substances falsely labeled as dietary supplements.
Braun and Singerman are scheduled to be sentenced on January 27, 2022, in Fort Lauderdale and face a maximum penalty of 13 years in prison. US District Judge William Dimitrouleas of the Southern District of Florida will determine any sentence after considering the US Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. Blackstone is also scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 27, 2022.
As part of their plea agreements, the defendants also agreed to forfeit all proceeds of these crimes, with Braun forfeiting $3 million, Singerman forfeiting $2.9 million, and Blackstone forfeiting $1 million, according to the DoJ.
The original 14-count indictment was handed down by a grand jury in US District Court for the Southern District of Florida in 2019, alleging that the defendants sold products that contained anabolic steroids and other illegal ingredients. The list of illegal ingredients contained in the products included SARMs (selective androgen receptor modulators), pro-hormones, the synthetic stimulants DMAA, DMBA, and “nootropic” picamilon, which has been ruled by FDA to not be a legal dietary ingredient.
The defendants specifically admitted that, from 2012 through 2017, they conspired to sell products that were unapproved new drugs and/or illegal controlled substances under the Designer Anabolic Steroid Control Act (DASCA). The defendants admitted that they falsely characterized their products as safe and legal dietary supplements. In addition, they falsely represented that the products were made in “FDA approved” registered facilities that followed all required regulations, when in fact they were not.
In addition, the defendants admitted to controlling a supplement manufacturer that fraudulently imported raw ingredients for their products from China. According to the DoJ, the defendants ignored injury complaints from consumers and did not notify the FDA of complaints, even when required by law.
“Dietary supplements are regulated to protect the health of American consumers,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice will prosecute individuals and corporations who sell dangerous products while misrepresenting that they are safe and legal dietary supplements.”
Four other defendants previously charged by the 2019 indictment in connection with a conspiracy to defraud the FDA, the distribution of unapproved new drugs, and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances have already pleaded guilty. One remaining defendant is set for trial on November 23, 2022.