Pleads guilty to 3 counts of selling ‘misbranded’ drugs
A Destrehan woman and her accomplice have both pleaded guilty to federal charges of selling illegal drugs as “all natural” diet pills in a multi-state scheme.
Darlene V. Krueger, 54, was convicted of three federal felony offenses of distributing a controlled substance and three counts of introducing “misbranded” drugs into interstate commerce.
Krueger was selling diet pills containing Sibutramine, a controlled substance that was the active pharmaceutical ingredient in Meridia, a prescription weight loss drug removed from the U.S. market in 2010 when it was connected to increased risk of strokes and heart attacks, according to U.S. Attorney Walt Green.
Sibutramine, related to amphetamines, also has been banned in Australia, Canada and the European Union, Hong Kong, India, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, Thailand and the United Kingdom.
Green said a federal jury convicted Krueger of the six federal offenses with the scheme on March 22. She was acquitted on one count. The jury’s verdicts followed a seven-day trial before U.S. District Judge John W. deGravelles.
Krueger’s sentencing date is pending.
According to evidence, the Destrehan resident had been engaged in the scheme from 2009 to 2014 selling the supplements under various names, including Slim Forte Slimming Capsules, Slim Forte Double Power Slimming Capsules, Slim-Vie Slimming Capsules, and Slim-Vie Double Power Slimming Capsules, which she knew contained Sibutramine, to customers in Louisiana.
According to Green, “Even after she learned that the diet pills contained Sibutramine and had potentially serious side effects, Krueger continued to distribute the diet pills and disseminate false and misleading information about the safety and efficacy of her products.
Krueger made approximately $100,000 as a result of the scheme.”
Her accomplice, John Wesley Hoag, 52, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., also pleaded guilty before deGravelles charging him with conspiring with Krueger to distribute and possess with intent to distribute Sibutramine and introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce.
During the hearing, Hoag also admitted to unlawfully importing the diet pills from manufacturers based in China and then distributing the diet pills to his distributors, including Krueger, and consumers.
Green said the two face significant incarceration, fines, restitution, forefeiture of proceeds and supervised release following imprisonment.
“To sell diet pills containing illegal substances is bad enough,” Green said. “Selling diet pills containing illegal substances and concealing that fact from unsuspecting customers by mislabeling the pill containers is intolerable. The actions taken by the defendant in this matter – which appear driven purely by greed – will consistently result in our office’s full attention and action. I commend the excellent work by the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations and our prosecutors who worked hand-in-hand to bring this case to its rightful conclusion.”