On Aug. 1, 2012, Ryan DeLuca, Jeremy DeLuca and Boise-based sports nutrition retailer Bodybuilding.com, LLC, were fined $8.1 million for criminal violations of the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act (FDCA)—specifically for selling misbranded prohormone products from various manufacturers.
Jeremy DeLuca, former Bodybuilding.com president, was fined $600,000; Ryan DeLuca, the company’s founder and current CEO, was fined $500,000; and Bodybuilding.com was fined $7 million—twice the purported $3.5 million the company had grossed through sale of the products.
These misdemeanor charges are the end result of a prolonged investigation following a September 2009 raid on Bodybuilding.com’s Boise warehouse and headquarters in Meridian, Idaho. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration had been investigating the retailer for selling products masked as supplements though they contained anabolic steroids. The products in question included I Force Methadrol, Nutra Costal D-Stianozol, I Force Dymethazine, Rage RV5, and Genetic Edge Technologies (GET) SUS500.
According to court documents, an FDA compliance officer had informed the DeLucas in 2008 and 2009 that some of Bodybuilding.com’s products contained illegal ingredients. Nevertheless, the company continued to sell the products.
According to an Aug. 1 news release from U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson, “Under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, an individual in a business who has responsibility and authority either to prevent or correct a violation of the FDCA is strictly liable for a misdemeanor criminal violation of the Act, regardless of the extent of his knowledge of the violations.”
Thus, adulteration cases involving both retailers and manufacturers can result in legal measures beyond warning letters or injunctions—they can lead to individual criminal charges.
“Today’s sentencing should serve as a reminder and deterrent to those involved in the distribution of products promoted as ‘dietary supplements’ that the FDA-Office of Criminal Investigations will continue working with U.S. Attorneys’ Offices to protect consumers, vigorously pursuing and holding accountable those who sell unsafe and illegal products to the unsuspecting public,” said Lisa Malinowski, Acting Special Agent in Charge, FDA-Office of Criminal Investigations, in a statement.