June 27, 2000
BALTIMORE, Md.--A federal jury reached a deadlock over 19 counts of conspiracy, selling an unauthorized drug and wire fraud in a trial accusing a businessman of selling AIDS and cancer patients an expensive aloe vera solution marketed as a cure. Allen J. Hoffman of Baltimore sold "T-Up" for more than $75 a bottle and offered a $12,000 two-week course of intravenous treatment. In the United States, it is illegal to sell aloe vera for intravenous use. Hoffman claimed he did not intend the intravenous treatment to be used by U.S. citizens.
Hoffman's lawyer said his client claimed his products were nutritional supplements, not medicines, and that Hoffman was not committing fraud because he believed in the holistic benefits of aloe vera. More than 100,000 copies of Hoffman's promotional tape, "There is Hope: You Do Not Have to Die!" brought the company $2.3 million in sales.
Co-defendant Odus Hennessee, president of Cosmetic Specialty Labs Inc., supplied Hoffman with his aloe vera and said [through his attorney] that he believed in the product but never said it cured cancer or should be taken intravenously. Hennessee was cleared of each of the 11 charges brought against him.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Virginia Evans, Hoffman was acquitted on one count of mail fraud, but since there was a deadlock on the other pending charges, the case will be re-tried. Hoffman and Neal Deoul, T-Up's other principal, were fined $3.7 million during the trial and the state demanded that they stop making efficacy claims for the product. Hoffman and Deoul are appealing those decisions. For more information about the product, visit www.tupbiosystems.com.
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