A federal court jury on Friday found the owner of a company that sells "male enhancement" tablets and other herbal supplements guilty on charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, bank fraud and money laundering.
Steve Warshak is founder and president of Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals, distributor of Enzyte and a number of products alleged to boost energy, manage weight, reduce memory loss and aid restful sleep.
Television ads for Enzyte feature "Smiling Bob," a goofy, grinning man whose life gets much better after he uses the product.
Warshak, 40, could face more than 20 years in prison and his company could have to forfeit tens of millions of dollars.
Prosecutors claimed that customers were bilked out of $100 million through a series of deceptive ads, manipulated credit card transactions and the company's refusal to accept returns or cancel orders. They said unauthorized credit card charges generated thousands of complaints over unordered products.
Warshak's mother, Harriett Warshak, also was convicted of conspiracy, bank fraud and money laundering charges.
The government also alleged that defendants obstructed investigations by two federal agencies.
Some former employees, including relatives of Warshak, pleaded guilty to other charges and cooperated with prosecutors. They testified that the company created fictitious doctors to endorse the pills, fabricated a customer-satisfaction survey and made up numbers to back claims about Enzyte's effectiveness.
Defense lawyers characterized that testimony as tainted because it was forced by the threat of prosecution.
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