Aaron Singerman, the co-founder and former operator of Blackstone Labs, a Boca Raton-based sports and dietary supplements retailer, was sentenced to 54 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $2.9 million.
According to the Department of Justice, Singerman admitted to leading a conspiracy to sell non-FDA-approved controlled substances through Blackstone labeled as dietary supplements, and he defrauded FDA as part of the scheme.
“Selling products labeled as dietary supplements that actually contain controlled substances and unapproved drugs is illegal and potentially dangerous,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton of DOJ’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice will work with its law enforcement partners to prosecute dietary supplement makers who ignore the law and disregard public safety for monetary gain.”
“Drug products that are disguised as dietary supplements can pose a risk to the health of US consumers,” said Special Agent in Charge Justin C. Fielder of the US Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA OCI) Miami Field Office. “We will continue to investigate and bring to justice those who jeopardize public health.”
Key Blackstone players
Phillip (PJ) Braun, Singerman, Robert DiMaggio, Anthony Ventrella, David Winsauer, James Boccuzzi, Blackstone Labs, LLC, and Ventech Labs, LLC were charged in a 14-count indictment that was unsealed on March 13, 2019.
Braun, Blackstone Labs’ other co-founder, was scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 27, but that hearing has been delayed.
In November 2021, Braun and Singerman both pleaded guilty to counts 3 and 4 of a 14-count indictment, which charged them with introduction of unapproved new drugs into interstate commerce with intent to defraud and mislead, and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.
Braun and several others linked to Blackstone Labs, including the company itself, are scheduled to be sentenced February 17.
From black to red to orange
In 2016, Singerman left day-to-day operations at Blackstone Labs but was still an owner until early 2018.
RedCon1 was founded in 2016. The supplement brand and gym employs about 200 people, including more than 100 in South Florida.
According to its website, RedCon1’s customer base is nearly 40% military, veterans, first responders, police, and paramedics.
“Blackstone persisted in criminal conduct after Mr. Singerman lost active control of it”
In a sentencing memo filed on the FLSD docket on 1/21/22, Singerman’s lawyers made a case for a lighter prison term by pointing the finger at Braun.
“Mr. Singerman does not and cannot contest the seriousness of the charges to which he has now pleaded guilty. He was involved in a conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids through Blackstone Labs and other related companies and he participated in mislabeling, marketing, and distributing certain compounds as ´dietary supplements’ when actually those compounds were unapproved new drugs.
"However, Mr. Singerman’s active role in any of the conduct underlying those charges ended in April 2016. As the presentence report notes, Mr. Singerman left Blackstone Labs in that month, following a disagreement with co-owner P.J. Braun; after April 2016, Mr. Singerman could not and did not exercise any day-to-day control over that business. Mr. Braun expressly prohibited Blackstone’s vendors– including Anthony Ventrella and VenTech Labs from doing any business with Mr. Singerman thereafter. Blackstone persisted in criminal conduct after Mr. Singerman lost active control of it, including through the creation of false ‘certificates of free sale’ distributions of controlled substances and attempts to thwart the federal investigation. Both the federal search warrant executed at Blackstone and other locations during that investigation (in February 2017) and the indictment in this case (March 2019) significantly post-dated Mr. Singerman’s departure,” the memo stated.
The memo also offered a glowing review of Singerman’s character as the RedCon1 founder, noting how the company aims to be “the gold standard in regulatory compliance” and Singerman’s vision to build a company that had “the highest moral fibers.”
Singerman’s charity, the RedCon1 Foundation, was also highlighted in the memo, which describes the foundation as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit on a mission to “make a positive and dramatic impact on the families of our United States military heroes.”
The foundation’s website states, “The REDCON1 Foundation will be fully transparent and we will document our giving so that you can see the impact that your donation makes on the lives of the men and women that defend our freedom.”
Although foundations are exempt from income taxation, they are generally required to file annual returns of their income and expenses with the Internal Revenue Service.
NutraIngredients-USA was unable to locate any tax records of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit. We reached out to the foundation’s public relations manager to request tax information, but did not receive a response at the time of publishing.
Lighter sentence despite violating bond conditions
In November 2021, Singerman was arrested for “boating under the influence” in Broward County after he allegedly crashed into several docks and parked vessels while operating his RedCon1 boat. According to his arrest report, Singerman blew about three times the legal limit with breath samples of .236 and .249.
On Jan. 7, Singerman drove on a suspended license while under the influence of Ambien, crashed into another vehicle, crossed the median, struck a palm tree, and had to be extricated from his vehicle, according to a Jan. 14 court document.
Despite violating bond conditions, Singerman received the 54 month sentence, far less than the 78-97 months prosecutors were seeking.
Singerman recorded a “goodbye” message for his followers that his wife posted for him after he was placed in custody for the final time. So far the video has had over 43k views.
“I wish things were different. And I wish I could go back in time and change some of the mistakes I made at the other company. And I tried to right my wrongs by creating RedCon1 and doing something that was squeaky clean. But that’s not how the world works. Unfortunately, sometimes you have to pay for past mistakes, even if it seems like a lifetime ago, you’re still on the hook. So I guess the message for anybody out there, never take any shortcuts, never do anything that you’re questionable about. Because if you do, it can come back to haunt you. Even if it’s years and years later, no matter how much good stuff you do, no matter how many people you help, you know, it may not matter. And in this case, it hasn’t mattered.”
In September, Singerman was a guest on the NutraCast podcast. When host Danielle Masterson asked about moral obligations and his trial, Singerman replied, “That's what we call an accusation Danielle. Are you familiar with what an accusation means versus facts?” adding that he is “allegedly and factually” not allowed to speak about the trial before hanging up.
Blackstone Labs chapter nears end
Six additional defendants and three other corporations previously pleaded guilty to charges related to the conspiracy. One additional defendant, James Boccuzzi, was convicted of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to defraud the FDA following a jury trial in December 2021. All 10 of these additional defendants are scheduled to be sentenced in February 2022.