Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 17, 2022
A Florida man who co-founded a sports and dietary supplements retailer was sentenced today to 54 months in prison for conspiring to sell illegal anabolic steroids and other products marketed as dietary supplements that were unlawful under federal law. A second Florida man was sentenced to 13 months in prison for his role in the scheme.
According to court documents, Phillip Braun, 41, of Boca Raton, founded and operated Blackstone Labs LLC, a Boca Raton-based sports and dietary supplements retailer. Braun, who pleaded guilty in November 2021 to conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and to selling unapproved new drugs, is also the CEO of Blackstone. U.S. District Judge William P. Dimitrouleas of the Southern District of Florida sentenced Braun to 54 months in prison and ordered him to forfeit $3 million. The court also ordered Blackstone Labs to pay $1.2 million in forfeiture.
Anthony Ventrella, 43, of Delray Beach, Florida, operated a series of companies that manufactured many of the illegal products marketed and sold by Blackstone. Ventrella, who pleaded guilty in September 2021 to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud as part of the scheme, was sentenced to 13 months in prison. The court also ordered Ventrella’s company, Ventech Labs, to forfeit equipment used to make the illegal products.
“Selling controlled substances and unapproved drugs falsely labelled as dietary supplements is illegal and potentially dangerous,” 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 of the Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA OCI) Miami Field Office. “We will continue to investigate and bring to justice those who jeopardize public health.”
On Jan. 27, Aaron Singerman, who co-founded and operated Blackstone Labs with Braun, was sentenced to 54 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $2.9 million.
In total, eight individuals and three companies were convicted in connection with the activities of Blackstone Labs. James Boccuzzi, who was convicted by a jury on Dec. 9, 2021 of one count of conspiracy to defraud the FDA and one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, is scheduled to be sentenced on March 11.
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 are prosecuting 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 provided assistance with the investigation and prosecution.
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