An North Carolina man pleaded guilty in federal court defrauding consumers of nearly $5 million by misbranding erectile dysfunction drugs and selling them as “all natural” herbal supplements, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
Kamran Rezapour, 52, of Creston, N.C. pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David C. Keesler to one count of wire fraud and two counts of drug misbranding. At today’s plea hearing, Rezapour admitted that from 2009 through April 2013, he defrauded consumers of nearly $5 million, by fraudulently and falsely claiming that his erectile dysfunction products were “100 % safe and natural.” Rezapour admitted that his products, in fact, contained ingredients similar to prescription drugs such as Viagra, which require FDA approval to market and distribute. According to court documents, Rezapour was the owner and operator of Nutrition for Health, Inc. and Mojo Risen, LLC. Through these companies, Rezapour sold dietary supplements, male enhancement drugs and erectile dysfunction drugs, including Mojo Risen, Mojo Sensation and VajiVedic. Court documents indicate that Rezapour advertised Mojo Risen and the other erectile dysfunction pills as non-prescription, “all natural” herbal supplements. As part of his plea, Rezapour admitted that in order to induce consumers to purchase his Mojo Risen, Rezapour made multiple and repeated false claims that the sexual enhancement products were “100% safe and natural” and without “harsh and dangerous side effects.”
Rezapour admitted in court today that these claims were false. Court documents indicate that Mojo Risen, Mojo Sensation and VajiVedic contained pharmaceutical and prescription compounds, including sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra) and its chemical analogue noracetildinafil, which Rezapour smuggled into the United States from China. Rezapour did not list sildenafil, noracetildenafil or any another prescription ingredient in the packaging and advertising material for the supplements and did not provide any warnings about the possible adverse side effects of sildenafil and noracetildenafil. Court documents indicate that these products also did not bear the symbol “Rx only” on their labels, as is required for all prescription drugs.
According to court records, Rezapour and his Chinese supplier evaded detection of the pharmaceutical and prescription compounds by U.S. Customs authorities and the FDA by falsely labeling the packages as “paint products,” “care product[s]” and “gift[s].” Rezapour ultimately distributed his products nationwide, including to customers located in Charlotte, and received approximately $4,944,939 in payments for the fraud scheme.
During the course of the investigation, law enforcement agents seized approximately $1.5 million in funds, and gold and silver coins in connection with the fraud. Rezapour has agreed to forfeit all of these assets as part of his plea agreement in this case.
“Rezapour’s customers bought his mislabeled drugs as safe alternatives to prescription medications,” said U.S. Attorney Tompkins. “What’s particularly troubling is that Rezapour knew his products contained certain ingredients that could cause serious health consequences, yet he marketed and sold his supplements without appropriate warning labels. My office and our federal partners will prosecute those who profit from the reckless sale of misbranded drugs to unsuspecting consumers.”
“Protecting the American public from those utilizing the mail for illegal purposes is of primary concern to the Postal Inspection Service,” said Keith Fixel, Inspector in Charge of USPIS’s Charlotte Division. “Working with our law enforcement partners, we will vigorously pursue those who attempt to use the mail for unlawful gain and who prey upon unsuspecting consumers.”
At sentencing, Rezapour faces a maximum prison term of 20 years and a $250,000 fine for the wire fraud charge and a maximum prison term of three years and a $250,000 fine for each count of misbranding drugs. In his plea agreement, Rezapour has agreed to pay full restitution for any losses resulting from his criminal scheme. The final restitution amount will be determined by the Court at Rezapour’s sentencing hearing, which has not been scheduled yet. Rezapour has been detained since April 17, 2013.
The investigation into Rezapour was conducted by FDA-OCI and USPIS, with the assistance of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The prosecution is handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelli Ferry and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Comerford of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.