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With COVID-19 ‘rampant,’ Blackstone Labs seeks trial continuance

Gavel 2020

Blackstone Labs and others indicted on criminal charges involving dietary supplements have requested a continuance of a trial scheduled to begin in October.

In an Aug. 26 motion requesting a continuance, the defendants’ attorneys described the COVID-19 pandemic as “rampant and out of control in Florida, and specifically in Broward County.”

The new positivity rate for Broward County is 16.56% (compared to 19.3% for the state of Florida), with area hospitals in particular facing 97% capacity with just 153 available beds as of Aug. 18, according to the motion.

The court document also cited statistics from The New York Times that the daily average of infections in Broward County soared by 62% in the past two weeks.

“All of these statistics demonstrate that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge,” according to the motion, which added lead counsel for each of the defendants is over the age of 65.

In 2019, Blackstone Labs and its co-founders were indicted by a federal grand jury for selling illegal substances in products marketed as dietary supplements, including anabolic steroids. Key employees and manufacturing partners also were named in the 14-count indictment.

Robert DiMaggio, a co-founder of Blackstone Labs, pleaded guilty in 2019 to count one of the charges, which alleged the defendants falsely marketed their products as legal dietary supplements.

DiMaggio and the government recently requested his sentencing be rescheduled and handed down after the trial of the co-defendants, which is set to begin Oct. 12, and according to DiMaggio's motion, was originally estimated to last 20 days. But with COVID-19 surging, defense counsel requested the trial be reset on or after March 25, 2022.

“Defense counsel all feel that based on what is known about the delta variant, forcing them to trial puts them and those close to them at serious risk of infection and urge the Court to postpone this case,” stated the motion for the continuance.

According to the motion, the government did not object to the request for a continuance. After the motion was filed, U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas scheduled a hearing for Sept. 24 to review the request to postpone the trial.

Lawyers who filed the motion represent Blackstone Labs and its co-founders, Phillip Braun and Aaron Singerman; Blackstone employees James Boccuzzi and David Winsauer; Ventech Labs, which manufactured products for Blackstone; and Anthony Ventrella, CEO of Ventech Labs.

Attorneys for the defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the case.

TAGS: Supplements
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