The former co-owner of a dietary supplement manufacturer has pleaded guilty to mail fraud after he was accused by prosecutors of shipping falsely labeled and untested supplements from his business in Missouri to customers within the United States and throughout the world.

Josh Long, Associate editorial director, Natural Products Insider

March 8, 2018

2 Min Read
Co-owner of Supplement Manufacturer Pleads Guilty to Fraud

The former co-owner of a dietary supplement manufacturer has pleaded guilty to mail fraud after he was accused by prosecutors of shipping falsely labeled and untested supplements from his business in Missouri to customers within the United States and throughout the world.

The charge against Jeffrey Edward Hicks, prosecutors revealed, carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

As the co-owner and operator of J.T. Naturals in Joplin, Missouri, Hicks routinely received imported raw materials from Argentina, Canada, China, Germany, Iceland, Japan, Peru and Sri Lanka, prosecutors said, adding the company used the ingredients to manufacture and sell finished dietary supplements.

Through J.T. Naturals, Hicks developed documents—including “Product Specification Sheets” and a “Certificate of Analysis”—that were sent to the supplement manufacturer’s customers, according to the charge against Hicks (download the charging document below).

“These documents purported to accurately identify the ingredients contained within the finished dietary supplement products, as well as identify all tests conducted by J.T. Naturals to ensure product safety,” prosecutors said in the charging document.

Prosecutors alleged Hicks was aware the documents misstated the ingredients and falsely claimed the finished products were tested to ensure safety.

Hicks was charged with causing the delivery of dietary supplements that purported to contain 1,000 milligrams of Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil and had been tested for heavy metals. However, the finished products had not been tested for the presence of heavy metals, the charging document said, and “contained materially different ingredients than what was listed.”

The Joplin Globe, which first reported on Hick’s guilty plea, said he was ordered in Jasper County Circuit Court to pay a judgment of nearly $135,000 to the city of Joplin in a breach of contract lawsuit the city filed against him and another company he operates, Kodiak Sports, in July 2016.

A federal judge has yet to accept Hicks’ guilty plea and sentence him.

Ian Lewis, an assistant federal public defender representing Hicks, did not immediately respond to a request for comment left on his voicemail. And, an FDA spokeswoman said the agency doesn’t comment on ongoing litigation.

 

 

About the Author(s)

Josh Long

Associate editorial director, Natural Products Insider, Informa Markets Health and Nutrition

Josh Long directs the online news, feature and op-ed coverage at Natural Products Insider, which targets the health and wellness industry. He has been reporting on developments in the dietary supplement industry for over a decade, with a focus on regulatory issues, including at the Food and Drug Administration.

He has moderated and/or presented at industry trade shows, including SupplySide East, SupplySide West, Natural Products Expo West, NBJ Summit and the annual Dietary Supplement Regulatory Summit.

Connect with Josh on LinkedIn and ping him with story ideas at [email protected]

Education and previous experience

Josh majored in journalism and graduated from Arizona State University the same year "Jake the Snake" Plummer led the Sun Devils to the Rose Bowl against the Ohio State Buckeyes. He also holds a J.D. from the University of Wyoming College of Law, was admitted in 2008 to practice law in the state of Colorado and spent a year clerking for a state district court judge.

Over more than a quarter century, he’s written on various topics for newspapers and business-to-business publications – from the Yavapai in Arizona and a controversial plan for a nuclear-waste incinerator in Idaho to nuanced issues, including FDA enforcement of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA).

Since the late 1990s, his articles have been published in a variety of media, including but not limited to, the Cape Cod Times (in Massachusetts), Sedona Red Rock News (in Arizona), Denver Post (in Colorado), Casper Star-Tribune (in Wyoming), now-defunct Jackson Hole Guide (in Wyoming), Colorado Lawyer (published by the Colorado Bar Association) and Nutrition Business Journal.

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