Thursday, May 5, 2016
BATON ROUGE, LA - United States Attorney Walt Green announced today that U.S. District Judge John W. deGravelles sentenced JOHN WESLEY HOAG, age 52, of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to fifty (50) months in federal prison for his scheme to sell illegal and mislabelled diet pills to victims throughout the United States, including Louisiana. HOAG was ordered to serve a two year term of supervised release following his release from imprisonment. HOAG was also ordered to pay a fine of $7,500 and to forfeit all property traceable to the gross proceeds of the scheme, including but not limited to $679,116.33.
At the conclusion of the sentencing, the Court ordered HOAG to begin serving his sentence immediately and remanded HOAG to the custody of the United States Marshal.
On July 29, 2015, HOAG pled guilty to engaging in a conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute sibutramine, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 846 and 2, and introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 331(a) and 2. This conduct was part of a multi-state scheme to illegally distribute diet pills containing sibutramine, a Schedule IV controlled substance, which were falsely labeled and marketed as “all natural” dietary supplements. Sibutramine was the active pharmaceutical ingredient in Meridia, a prescription weight loss drug removed from the market in 2010 following studies that showed significantly increased risk of strokes and heart attacks. Since the removal of Meridia, no drug containing sibutramine has been approved for use in humans in the United States.
In a related case, on March 22, 2016, following a seven-day trial, a federal jury convicted DARLENE V. KRUEGER, age 54, of Destrehan, Louisiana, on three counts of distribution of sibutramine and three counts of introduction of misbranded drugs into interstate commerce. The sentencing date has not yet been set.
U.S. Attorney Green stated: “Today’s sentence sends a strong message to the community that my office and our law enforcement partners take the distribution of illegal drugs, in all forms, extremely seriously. Those who peddle illegal substances in this district for profit will face stiff penalties, regardless of whether they peddle those drugs on our street corners or over the internet. I want to express my sincere gratitude to the dedicated law enforcement agents and the prosecution team who investigated and prosecuted this complex case and dismantled this defendant’s drug distribution ring.”
“Consumers are put at serious risk when they are unknowingly exposed to undeclared active pharmaceutical ingredients in products falsely labeled as natural dietary supplements,” said Robert J. West, Special Agent-in-Charge, Miami Field Office, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations. “Our office will continue to defend the public’s health by ensuring that dietary supplements are accurately labeled, and do not contain dangerous undeclared active pharmaceutical ingredients.”
This matter was handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, with the assistance from other FDA components; the Louisiana State Police; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Slidell, Louisiana, Police Department; and the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Police Department. The matter was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Cam T. Le and Paul L. Pugliese.
Health care professionals and patients are encouraged to report adverse events or side effects related to the use of these products to the FDA. For more information regarding dietary supplements and to report adverse events, please visit the FDA’s website at http://www.fda.gov/Food/DietarySupplements/.
Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Louisiana
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