A Florida man who led sales for a sports and dietary supplements retailer was sentenced today to 51 months in prison for conspiring to defraud the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and conspiring to distribute anabolic steroids.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, James Boccuzzi, 38, of Parkland, was director of sales for Blackstone Labs LLC, a Boca Raton-based sports and dietary supplements retailer. A jury convicted Boccuzzi in December 2021 of conspiracy to defraud the FDA and conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids. U.S. District Judge William P. Dimitrouleas of the Southern District of Florida sentenced Boccuzzi to 51 months in prison and ordered him to pay a fine of $20,000.
Boccuzzi and his co-conspirators, including Phillip “PJ” Braun, Aaron Singerman, Blackstone Labs LLC and others, conspired to defraud the FDA and to illegally manufacture and distribute anabolic steroids that were controlled substances under the Designer Anabolic Steroid Control Act. Evidence at trial established that Boccuzzi and his co-conspirators continued to sell the illegal controlled substances despite knowing about the law and its impact on the legality of Blackstone’s steroid products.
The evidence also showed that Boccuzzi and his co-conspirators quickly sold off other Blackstone products containing certain stimulants after they received an FDA warning letter notifying them that the products were unlawful to sell as dietary supplements. Further, the evidence showed that the conspirators concealed the sales of other products containing research chemicals despite knowing that the products could not legally be sold as dietary supplements. During the conspiracy, Boccuzzi also created a fraudulent “Certificate of Free Sale,” representing himself to be an employee of the FDA, in order to ship Blackstone Labs products internationally.
“Dietary supplement distributors and manufacturers cannot ignore the law,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice will work with law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute individuals and companies who disregard public safety to make a profit.”
“Drug products that are disguised as supplements can pose a serious risk to the health of U.S. consumers,” said Special Agent in Charge Justin C. Fielder, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA-OCI) Miami Field Office. “We will continue to investigate and bring to justice those who jeopardize the public health.”
Aaron Singerman and Phillip Braun, who co-founded and operated Blackstone Labs, previously pleaded guilty to distributing unapproved new drugs and conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids. Each was sentenced to 54 months of imprisonment and ordered to forfeit $2.9 million and $3 million, respectively. The court also previously ordered $38,655 in restitution for medical expenses related to certain victims.
In total, eight individuals and three companies were convicted of felonies in connection with the activities of Blackstone Labs and ordered to forfeit a total of nearly $8 million. Boccuzzi is the final defendant to be sentenced in this case.
FDA-OCI investigated the case.
Trial Attorneys Alistair Reader and Stephen Gripkey, Senior Litigation Counsel David A. Frank and Assistant Director John W. Burke of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch prosecuted the cases with assistance from Assistant U.S. Attorney Daren Grove of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. Laura Akowuah, Brian Furlong and Sarah Hawkins from the FDA’s Office of Chief Counsel also provided assistance with the investigation and prosecution.
Additional information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its enforcement efforts may be found at http://www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch.