The owner of a South Carolina supplement company was sentenced to one day and one year of imprisonment for manufacturing and shipping unapproved drugs and anabolic steroids, the Department of Justice announced.
John F. Cochcroft, 37, of Lexington, South Carolina, pleaded guilty on May 25, to one count of introduction of a new drug into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud and mislead and one count of manufacturing and possessing with the intent to distribute and distributing anabolic steroids. As part of the plea agreement, Cochcroft agreed to pay a forfeiture money judgment of $200,000 related to proceeds from his sales of illicit products. U.S. District Judge James P. Jones of the Western District of Virginia imposed the sentence.
In pleading guilty, Cochcroft admitted that he operated businesses that marketed products as “dietary supplements” to the body-building and fitness communities to increase muscle mass. He admitted that some of these products contained osterine, a type of synthetic steroid known as a Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator (SARM). The FDA has warned against the use of SARMs, including stating in a 2017 warning letter to another firm that SARMs have been linked to life-threatening reactions like liver toxicity, and that they have the potential to increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
“Workout supplements containing anabolic steroids and unapproved steroid-like drugs can be dangerous,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The department will continue to work closely with the FDA to prosecute those who seek profit at the expense of public safety.”
“Cochcroft and his company placed public health at risk by unlawfully distributing unapproved drugs that have been linked to life-threatening conditions,” U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh said today. “Marketing and distributing unapproved drugs is not only dangerous, but a federal crime.”
According to court filings, Cochcroft took steps to mislead and defraud the government and consumers in the sale of these products, including using multiple addresses with fictitious business names, working with Chinese suppliers to mislabel drug products as foodstuff items, and knowingly failing to seek approval for the products. During its investigation, the government seized various products containing anabolic steroids from Cochcroft’s business. Anabolic steroids are Schedule III controlled substances under the Controlled Substances Act , Schedule III(e) and have been linked to life-threatening reactions and side effects.
The FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy Ramseyer o for the Western District of Virginia and Trial Attorney Speare Hodges of the Department of Justice Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch prosecuted the case.