PITTSBURGH, Pa. (WECT) – A Bolivia man pleaded guilty to federal charges in connection with a scheme to sell misbranded drugs online, side-stepping regulation by the Food and Drug Administration, prosecutors said
According to a news release from the Justice Department, Joshua Fulton, 41, entered a guilty plea Tuesday to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States.
As part of his plea, Fulton agreed to forfeit $10.7 million linked to his businesses — Proven Peptides, Sarmsx, Coastline Kratom, Kratom Crazy, Best Kratom, Absorb Health, and Peak Nootropics.
Prosecutors said Fulton operated these businesses from Sept. 2016 to Nov. 2020 and sold selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs), along with kratom and nootropics.
According to a federal complaint filed in Pennsylvania, Fulton’s businesses advertised health benefits of the drugs like building muscle, lowering cholesterol, reducing anxiety, relieving pain, or improving memory.
In an effort to evade FDA scrutiny, Fulton included a disclaimer that the drugs were “research chemicals” and not meant for human consumption when he knew that customers were indeed taking the drugs.
SARMs are synthetic chemicals designed to mimic the effects of testosterone and other steroids to increase muscle mass. The FDA has not approved SARMs and has linked the drugs to liver toxicity, and an increased risk of heart attack, and stroke.
Kratom, a plant that is native to southeast Asia, is used to treat conditions like pain, anxiety, and depression, and has not been approved by the FDA
Fulton maintained an office facility that manufactured, packaged, and processed the drugs but didn’t register the facility with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as required by law. He also didn’t submit any new applications for the drugs, according to the complaint.
The drugs were sold online and shipped to numerous places, including western Pennsylvania, prosecutors said.
Fulton is expected to be sentenced on Jan. 6. He faces up to five years in prison and/or a fine of $250,000.
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