A 43-year-old man who marketed an “all-natural male performance enhancer” that contained the active ingredient in a popular erectile dysfunction drug faces the prospect of incarceration after pleading guilty to his involvement in the fraudulent scheme, federal prosecutors announced last week.
Michael S. Schindele, of Jacksonville, Florida, pleaded guilty before a U.S. magistrate in Missouri to one count of wire fraud and one count of delivering adulterated or misbranded food. He faces up to 23 years in federal prison without parole, though the court will determine his sentence based on advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors, according to an Aug. 15 news release from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
Schindele, the owner and operator of Executive Image International, operated a website that sold dietary supplements and drugs to the general public. Among the products he sold, DOJ revealed, was Silver Bullet, which was marketed as an “all-natural male performance enhancer,” an “Extreme Male Stimulant” and a “dietary supplement.”
The product, however, “contained materially different ingredients than what was listed, including sildenafil, a synthetic pharmaceutical ingredient that was not disclosed to consumers purchasing the product,” the news release said. Sildenafil is the active ingredient in Viagra, the drug used to treat erectile dysfunction, which according to the business magazine Fortune has generated tens of billions in sales since its debut in 1998.
Silver Bullet, DOJ noted, was procured and shipped from a supplier in the People’s Republic of China, then Michael Schindele and others resold it to consumers throughout the United States and worldwide.
Based on Schindele’s misrepresentations, he, Executive Image International, Schindele Enterprises and Midwest Wholesale netted at least US$150,000 from consumers, DOJ announced, adding the amount (at least $47,930) Schindele personally received must be forfeited to the government.
Schindele worked through businesses to sell dietary supplements that claimed to contain only all natural ingredients, according to DOJ. Schindele’s brother, John G. Schindele and Jennifer S. Travis, both of Nixa, Missouri, owned and operated the businesses. In separate but related cases, they both pleaded guilty in February 2018.
Attorneys representing Michael Schindele, John Schindele and Jennifer Travis did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment.
During the time of the fraud scheme, which lasted from Oct. 11, 2011, through Jan. 6, 2014, Schindele also pleaded guilty in a separate and unrelated case to the misdemeanor offense of introducing an unapproved animal drug, according to DOJ.
He admitted he sold heartworm tablets produced in Australia. The tablets had not been approved for sale in the United States and required a veterinarian’s prescription, DOJ said. In 2012, Schindele was sentenced to one year of unsupervised probation.
The fraud cases are being prosecuted in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.