Chinese Citizen Pleads Guilty in Dallas in Scheme to Sell Mislabeled Diet Supplements

A Chinese citizen faces 20 years in prison after he pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Dallas in a scheme to sell mislabeled dietary supplements. Zhang Xiao Dong, also known as Mark Zhang, admitted to committing mail fraud in connection with the scheme, said federal officials of the Northern District of Texas.Zhang, from Shanghai, was the sales manager for Genabolix USA Inc., and Shanghai Yongyi Biotechnology Co. Ltd., Chinese firms that sell raw ingredients for use in dietary supplements. Zhang admitted that he agreed to help sell synthetic stimulant ingredients, including the substance known as 1,4-DMAA, to a purported dietary supplement manufacturer in the U.S. According to an indictment issued in October, Zhang and two co-defendants agreed with a confidential informant to either mislabel the synthetic ingredients or otherwise help hide the true nature of a proposed supplement from retailers. Zhang also told investigators that he knew major American dietary supplement retailers would refuse to carry items known to contain certain stimulants, such as Methylhexanamine, or DMAA.DMAA is often marketed as a stimulant but has been linked to some deaths in high-performance athletes.Zhang pleaded guilty before Judge David Horan and his sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 15. Additional penalties could include a $250,000 fine for mail fraud or wire fraud; one year imprisonment and a $100,000 fine for the introduction of mislabeled food into interstate commerce.Zhang was arrested in September along with a co-defendant, Gao Mei Fang, at a dietary supplement trade show in Las Vegas. Gao pleaded guilty on April 3. A third defendant, Hu Chang Chun, is believed to have left the country, officials said.The FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations handled the investigation, along with federal attorneys in Texas and with the Department of Justice's Consumer Protection Branch.  Continue reading...

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