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Remember the "Smiling Bob" TV commercials that promised "natural male enhancement" by taking a one-a-day pill called Enzyte?
Steve Warshak, the founder of the Cincinnati-based company that used to sell the herbal supplement, wasn't smiling when he went to prison in 2009 for mail fraud, bank fraud and money laundering. The fraud involved making unauthorized credit card charges - against customers and people who ordered free samples - and for misleading banks.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday that it has released $23 million in forfeited funds to 138,426 victims of the fraud. That may sound like a lot, but at Warshak's sentencing in 2008, Judge S. Arthur Spiegel estimated that Warshak's company, Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals, took in $400 million from its fraud.
"Returning forfeited funds to crime victims is an essential ingredient in achieving justice," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman said in a statement Friday. "Fulfilling this important mission, the department has distributed over $1.5 billion over the past 16 months to victims of fraud and others. I commend the prosecutors in the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorneys' Offices around the country, as well as the many federal, state and local law enforcement agents, who have worked so hard to reach this milestone."
Warshak was sentenced to 25 years in prison, but Spiegel cut 15 years off his sentence in 2011. Warshak could be eligible for release in 2016.
Warshak's mother, Harriet Warshak, was also convicted of fraud and money laundering and sentenced to two years in prison. But she was 75 at the time, and Spiegel later reduced her sentence to one day in jail.
No one ever proved that Enzyte didn't work - then or now. Because it was marketed as a herbal product, it did not have to undergo testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It is still being sold online at http://www.enzyte.com by Pristine Bay LLC d/b/a Vianda, which bought Warshak's company assets after bankruptcy.
Vianda is located at 1661 Waycross Road, the same address once occupied by Berkeley Premium Pharmaceuticals.
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