Criminal Justice News

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Justice Department to Return $24 Million to Victims of Berkeley Nutraceutical Fraud


CINCINNATI—The U.S. Department of Justice has released approximately $24 million for remission payments to victims nationwide who purchased “sexual enhancement” and other nutritional products from Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals Inc. under fraudulent circumstances between 2001 and 2005.

The release of the funds that were ordered forfeited following the criminal conviction of former Berkeley president and owner Steven E. Warshak and 10 other executives was announced today by Carter M. Stewart, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; Dugan Wong, Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service; Edward Hanko, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Cincinnati Field Division; Darryl K. Williams, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation; Kim Rice, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations; and Patrick Sedoti, Acting U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Ohio.

Berkeley advertised its products on national television, print media, radio, and the Internet. The television ads featured “Smiling Bob,” a man with an exaggerated smile. Customers often discovered that their credit cards were charged for additional products without their knowledge or consent.

A jury convicted Warshak in 2008 on 93 counts of bank fraud, mail fraud, and money laundering, and he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He and his co-conspirators were ordered to forfeit bank accounts and other property.

“We are committed to fight fraud against innocent consumers,” said U.S. Attorney Stewart. “We are pleased to be able to make these payments to victims across the country of the fraud committed by former Berkeley executives.”

In conjunction with a class action lawsuit filed against Berkeley in Ohio state court, the U.S. Department of Justice approved 138,426 claims for remission. For a limited time, new requests for remission will be accepted from persons who did not participate in the class action and have not already submitted a claim for remission.

To be eligible for a new claim for remission, consumers must have: 1) purchased Enzyte between August 2001 and April 20, 2005; 2) purchased Avlimil between January 1, 2003 and July 30, 2004; or 3) incurred unauthorized credit card charges on any Berkeley products on or before August 16, 2004 and must not have previously received a refund. The claims must be submitted online or postmarked no later than July 9, 2012.

Persons interested in submitting claims for remission should call the Berkeley Forfeited Funds Claims Administrator toll-free at 1-855-886-6887 or visit their website at www.BerkeleyForfeiture.com.

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