Creston man pleads guilty to federal wire fraud, drug misbranding charges
Kamran Rezapour, 52, allegedly defrauded consumers of nearly $5 million "by misbranding erectile dysfunction drugs and selling them as 'all natural' herbal supplements," according to a news release issued by Tompkins' office.
"Rezapour's customers bought his mislabeled drugs as safe alternatives to prescription medications," Tompkins said. "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."
Rezapour pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David C. Keesler on Feb. 20, and "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 percent safe and natural,'" according to the release.
According to the release, Rezapour admitted that his products contained ingredients similar to prescription drugs such as Viagra, which require FDA approval to market and distribute.
Rezapour was the owner and operator of Nutrition for Health Inc. and Mojo Risen LLC, according to the release, and sold dietary supplements, male enhancement and erectile dysfunction drugs, including "Mojo Risen, Mojo Sensation and VajiVedic."
"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 percent safe and natural,' and without 'harsh and dangerous side effects,'" according to the release.
Rezapour admitted in court on Thursday that those claims were false, according to the release.
Mojo Risen, Mojo Sensation and VajiVedic contained pharmaceutical and prescription compounds, according to the release, including the active ingredient in Viagra, sildenafil, and its chemical analogue, noracetildinafil, "which Rezapour smuggled into the United States from China."
According to the release, Rezapour failed to list any of the prescription agreement on the product's packaging or advertising materials, and did not provide any warnings about the possible adverse side effects of sildenafil and noracetildinafil. The products also did bear the "Rx only" symbol, which 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 products' and 'gifts,'" according to the release.
The products were distributed nationwide and Rezapour received approximately $4,944,939 in payments through the scheme, according to the release.
Law enforcement agents seized approximately $1.5 million in funds during the investigation, in addition to gold and silver coins.
According to the release, Rezapour agreed to forfeit all of those assets as part of his plea agreement.
"Protecting the American public from those utilizing the mail for illegal purposes is of primary concern to the Postal Inspection Service," Inspector in Charge of the United States Postal Inspection Service's Charlotte Division Keith Fixel said. "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."
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," according to the release. "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 activities was conducted by FDA-OCI and USPIS, with the assistance of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The prosecution was 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.
In June 2013, the FDA issued a warning against Mojo Risen, advising consumers not to purchase or to discontinue using the product immediately.
The FDA also advised consumers who have experienced any negative side effects as a result of using this product to consult a health care professional as soon as possible. For more information, visit http://www.fda.gov/drugs/resourcesforyou/consumers/buyingusingmedicinesafely/medicationhealthfraud/ucm355904.htm.