Prosecutors allege Georgia company, execs engaged in Mob tactics
By Mike Brunker Projects Team editor
Updated: 12:14 p.m. CT April 12, 2007
Until late last year, Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals of Norcross, Ga., appeared to be a thriving business with a hot-selling line of natural dietary supplements. But in a bizarre case quietly unfolding in federal court in Atlanta, prosecutors allege that it was really a criminal enterprise that sold dangerous “spiked” products and was run by executives who considered assassination and blackmail to quash a federal investigation.
The allegations are the most far-ranging ever leveled against a major player in the loosely regulated dietary supplement industry, and include activities more at home in the Mob hangouts of television's Tony Soprano than a corporate boardroom. Among other things, prosecutors allege in court filings that some or all of the defendants:
· Discussed killing a U.S. Food and Drug Administration agent and blackmailing an assistant U.S. attorney. Neither plot was carried out, but a Hi-Tech co-founder was subsequently jailed after being convicted of being a felon in possession of a “firearm silencer.”
· Used the herbal stimulant ephedra in Hi-Tech diet products after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned its use on April 12, 2004, finding it presented “an unreasonable risk of illness or injury.”
· Sold "herbal" supplements that actually contained the active ingredients of prescription drugs that could interact dangerously with other medications.
· Illegally imported and sold banned steroids.
· Manufactured phony ecstasy tablets that were sold on U.S. streets.
· Created a muscle-building drink that was later marketed as a cleaning solution in an effort to mislead investigators.
The shocking allegations spring from the Sept. 7 indictment of the company and 11 executives, employees and associates for allegedly operating an illegal Internet pharmacy in Belize.
Belize lab ‘substandard and unsanitary’The defendants used numerous Web sites to advertise ... full text