NEWARK, New Jersey, April 14, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — A Utah man has admitted to illegally selling erectile dysfunction pills that he falsely marketed as herbal supplements for men, according to a statement from the District of New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Robert Zeng, 55, of Salt Lake City, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo to one count of introducing a misbranded drug into interstate commerce with intent to defraud and mislead consumers, the statement said.
Documents filed in this case and statements made in court, show Zeng was the owner of various businesses, including Nutopia USA, which sold purported natural supplements online and through e-commerce websites.
On Feb. 29, 2020, Zeng imported three kilograms of sildenafil, an active ingredient in the brand name prescription drug Viagra, which is approved by the FDA for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Zeng used the sildenafil to manufacture an unapproved and misbranded drug named “Mr. Richard Rocks.”
“Zeng falsely marketed and labeled Mr. Richard Rocks as a dietary supplement containing only natural ingredients that treated erectile dysfunction, enhanced sexual performance, improved mood, and reduced blood sugar and cholesterol,” the U.S. Attorney’s news release said. “The labeling for Mr. Richard Rocks did not disclose the presence of sildenafil, reveal the potentially adverse health consequences that may result from using a product containing sildenafil, nor provide adequate directions for use. Zeng sold Mr. Richard Rocks on the Nutopia website and on e-commerce platforms to consumers across the United States, including in New Jersey, without requiring a prescription.”
The felony misbranding charge to which Zeng pleaded guilty carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross pecuniary gain/loss, whichever is greater. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 26.
This case originally arose out of the COVID-19 Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, which is coordinating efforts with the Antitrust Division and U.S. Attorneys across the country wherever illegal activity involving protective personal equipment occurs, the statement says.