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25 years for selling 'sexual enhancement'

August 28, 2008|From the Associated Press

CINCINNATI — A business owner convicted of defrauding customers seeking male sexual enhancement products and a variety of herbal supplements was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years in prison.

Steve Warshak, 42, founder of Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals, also was ordered to pay $93,000 in fines. He was convicted in February on 93 counts of conspiracy, fraud and money laundering.

Federal prosecutors accused the company of bilking customers out of $100 million through a series of deceptive ads, manipulated credit card transactions and refusal to accept returns or cancel orders.

U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel ordered the company, along with other defendants, to forfeit more than $500 million.

Berkeley distributes various products alleged to boost energy, manage weight, reduce memory loss and aid sleep. The company's main product, Enzyte, promises sexual enhancement. It has ads featuring "Smiling Bob," a happy man with an exaggerated smile.

"This is a case about greed," Spiegel said. "Steven Warshak preyed on perceived sexual inadequacies of customers."

Spiegel said one aspect of the fraud relied on the reluctance of customers to come forward, which would mean admitting they ordered the sexual enhancement pills.

"I don't see any evidence of remorse or concern for anyone but himself," Spiegel said.

Spiegel said the company, which is likely to be hit with the majority of the forfeiture, will be allowed to stay in business.

Warshak's mother, Harriet Warshak, was sentenced to two years in prison. She was convicted of conspiracy and other charges.

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