Alameda County District Attorney's Office
Nancy E. O'Malley, District Attorney

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Unapproved Dietary Supplements Seller to Pay $1.7m

PRESS RELEASE
(For Immediate Release)
January 30, 2014

SELLER OF UNAPPROVED DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS AGREES TO PAY $1,796,114.50 IN PENALTIES & RESTITUTION

Oakland, CA —Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley announced today that Benjamin Suarez, an Ohio direct mail and internet marketer, and his company, Suarez Corporation Industries, Inc. (“SCI”), have agreed to settle a civil enforcement action alleging that they used false and misleading marketing claims to sell or attempt to sell unapproved and/or misbranded food, drugs and medical devices in Alameda County and throughout the State of California. The Final Judgment was signed by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Wynne S. Carvill on January 28, 2014.

The settlement ends a multi-jurisdiction lawsuit brought by the California Nutritional Supplement Task Force, which is comprised of the District Attorneys for Alameda, Marin, Monterey, Napa, Orange, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Solano and Sonoma Counties.

The Task Force filed this action in Alameda County in June 2011 (Docket #RG11580407). The Complaint alleges deceptive marketing and sales of multiple unapproved or misbranded drugs and devices in California beginning as early as 2006, in violation of California’s False Advertising and Unfair Competition Laws. It further alleges that SCI and Suarez illegally marketed and sold a variety of weight loss, health and pain control products based on advertising claims that were unsubstantiated, false or misleading. Shortly after the case was filed, the Alameda County Superior Court issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting SCI from selling one of the products in question.

Under the terms of the final settlement, SCI and Suarez are bound by a permanent injunction prohibiting them, among other things, from marketing and selling nutritional supplements and other devices in violation of California’s consumer safety and false advertising laws. The defendants agreed to pay or have already paid a combined $1,796,114.50 in penalties, restitution and restitution credits.

The complaint alleges that this public enforcement action is one of many such cases involving SCI, including proceedings brought by the United States Postal Service, and various other states. In 2006, California law enforcement officials obtained a permanent injunction against SCI in connection with a related dietary supplement known as “AbGone”, which was alleged to have been marketed in a misleading way.

Contact: ADA Teresa Drenick
(510) 272-6280
teresa.drenick@acgov.org
Alameda County District Attorney’s Office
www.alcoda.org

Posted on Jan 30, 2014