A judge on Tuesday sentenced to prison a 36-year-old man who marketed a drug as a “fat burner” and called it a fertilizer despite knowledge FDA had not approved the substance for human consumption, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.
Scott Edward Cavell, of Sacramento, California, was sentenced to three years in prison for causing misbranded drugs to be introduced into interstate commerce, according to U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott.
Between 2015 and 2017, Cavell and others developed a scheme to market and sell 2,4-Dinitrophenol (“DNP”) as a weight loss drug and “fat burner,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said, citing court documents.
“Cavell thought he could trick regulators,” Scott said in a statement. “He was wrong. It’s past time for him to learn that we will ensure that these types of schemes are stopped to keep the community safe.”
Authorities around the world, including in the United Kingdom, have warned of DNP’s potential hazards to human health. FDA has proclaimed DNP is so toxic it cannot be used for human consumption under any circumstances, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
DNP has been commercially used to produce dyes and wood preservatives, as a fertilizer and as a pesticide, the news release said.
Cavell served as CEO of Enhanced Athlete, a marketer of bodybuilding products whose facilities were raided in December 2017 by the federal government related to the sale of selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs).
In a 2017 statement, an FDA official, Donald Ashley, expressed concern over the sale of bodybuilding products containing SARMs linked to “serious safety concerns, including potential to increase the risk of heart attack or stroke and life threatening reactions like liver damage.”
That was the same year Cavell was arrested for violations of his supervised probation, which he was under from his previous participation in a mortgage fraud scheme. Cavell's sentencing Tuesday concluded both cases against him related to the sale of DNP and the probation violations, Lauren Horwood, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office, said.
Ron Peters, an attorney in Sacramento, and Richard ("Rick") Collins, a lawyer in Mineola, New York, represented Cavell. With his attorneys present, Cavell addressed the court and expressed remorse for his involvement in the matter, Peters and Collins said in an emailed statement.
"While in custody, he [Cavell] has taken steps to rehabilitate himself by earning a masters degree and looks forward to completing his sentence and leading a productive life," the lawyers added. "He has expressed a willingness to engage in community service at the direction of the probation department when released."
It’s not clear who is currently managing Enhanced Athlete. Its website remains active and features pictures of Charles Anthony Hughes, a colorful figure also known as “Dr. Tony Huge,” whose role at the company has been the subject of debate in civil litigation between Enhanced Athlete and Nutrition Distribution, a marketer of sports nutrition products.
Enhanced Athlete also has been mired in controversy over the sale of DNP. In February, a jury in the United Kingdom found the company’s European division guilty of placing an unsafe food product on the market.
The company was handed various fines, and its former director was sentenced to a suspended prison sentence, community service and corporate restriction.
Enhanced Athlete didn't immediately respond to a request for comment regarding Cavell's sentencing.