A Florida man recently pleaded guilty to his role in a scheme involving the distribution of illegally products falsely labeled as dietary supplements.
Anthony “Joey” Ventrella, of Boynton Beach, controlled Ventech, a company that manufactured products for Blackstone Labs.
Ventrella, Ventech and Blackstone Labs all were named defendants in a 2019 grand jury indictment, along with five other individuals.
Ventrella pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and to defraud the United States before U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas of the Southern District of Florida, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced in a Sept. 16 news release. Ventrella, who is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 29, faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, the news release said.
Ventrella admitted he helped co-conspirators produce and distribute products to consumers labeled as legal dietary supplements, yet the products actually contained ingredients that rendered them unapproved drugs, according to DOJ, citing court filings.
“Ventrella admitted to importing raw ingredients from China using fraudulent paperwork that concealed the true contents of the shipments in an effort to hide his and his co-defendants’ activities from the FDA,” DOJ stated in the news release.
As part of his plea agreement, Ventech agreed to forfeit manufacturing equipment used during the alleged scheme.
Ventech also pleaded guilty to the same conspiracy, DOJ said.
Nancy Quinlan, a lawyer representing Ventrella, declined to comment. Robert Shearin, an attorney representing Ventech, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Earlier in September, DOJ announced a former employee of Blackstone Labs, David Winsauer, pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud FDA by hiding information about illegal products labeled as dietary supplements. Winsauer worked for Blackstone Labs from 2014 to 2018, and according to court documents, he helped to manage the supplement company’s marketing, website and direct-to-consumer sales.
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.
One of the defendants, Robert DiMaggio, a co-founder of Blackstone Labs, pleaded guilty in 2019 to count one of the charges, and he is awaiting sentencing.
Four co-defendants—including Blackstone Labs’ co-founders Aaron Singerman and Phillip (aka P.J.) Braun—are scheduled to go to trial on Oct. 12. However, they recently requested a continuance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After the motion was filed, Judge Dimitrouleas scheduled a hearing for Sept. 24 to review the request to postpone the trial.