A Florida man was sentenced to just over four years in federal prison Thursday for illegally selling mislabeled diet pills to people across the country, including in Louisiana.
In a related case, a Destrehan woman was convicted in March also for selling the mislabeled drug, said U.S. Attorney Walt Green in a news release.
U.S. District Judge John deGravelles sentenced John Wesley Hoag, 52, to 50 months in federal prison and ordered him to pay a fine of $7,500. Hoag is also required to forfeit his proceeds from the scheme, which Green said would be at least $679,116.
Hoag, of Ft. Lauderdale, pleaded guilty July 29, 2015, to the conspiracy to distribute pills containing sibutramine, falsely labeled as an “all-natural” dietary supplements, Green said.
Sibutramine was the active ingredient in Meridia, a prescription weight loss drug removed from the market in 2010 after studies showed it significantly increased risk of heart attacks and strokes, Green said. No drugs containing sibutramine have been approved since.
A federal jury also convicted Darlene Krueger, 54, March 22 on three counts of distribution of sibutramine as a mislabeled drug, Green said. Krueger’s sentencing date has not been set yet.
“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 at the Miami Field Office of the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations, which helped handle the case.