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Marketer of ‘supplements’ tainted with Viagra's active ingredient pleads guilty

Michael S. Schindele, of Jacksonville, Florida, 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, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

Josh Long

August 20, 2018

2 Min Read
Marketer of ‘supplements’ tainted with Viagra's active ingredient pleads guilty

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.

 

 

 

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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