SHREVEPORT, La. – William Earl Maddox, 73, of Haynesville, the Constable of Claiborne Parish, pleaded guilty today before United States District Judge Elizabeth E. Foote to misbranding an illegal supplement, Acting United States Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook announced.
Maddox was charged in a superseding indictment in September 2020 with selling and misbranding illegal supplements online and in stores. At today’s hearing, he pleaded guilty to a felony charge of misbranding of a drug while held for sale after shipment in interstate commerce. In connection with his guilty plea, Maddox agreed to a forfeiture judgment not to exceed $50,000 to the United States and agreed to sell real property in Homer to satisfy that judgment.
According to information presented at the hearing, Maddox formed Middle Marketing, LLC in 2011. Shortly thereafter, he began operating two websites, www.sexassurance.com and www.middlemarketing.com, wherein he advertised for sale capsules called “Sex Assurance.” Maddox described the capsules on his websites as a “natural male enhancement solution.”
In 2017, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection intercepted a package that was shipped from Hong Kong and addressed to Maddox at his residence in Homer. The parcel was inspected and found to contain 2,000 unlabeled blister-packaged green capsules. The parcel was then referred to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA sent two letters to Maddox advising that the parcel had been detained for non-compliance with the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and advising him of his right to respond regarding the admissibility of the capsules. Maddox did not respond to either letter, and so the capsules were surrendered.
In January 2018, FDA agents conducted a controlled purchase of two packs of Sex Assurance from Maddox’s website. An online receipt was issued that identified Middle Marketing as the seller and provided the email address and phone number associated with Maddox. A few days later, agents received a package shipped from Haynesville that contained a business card in the name of “William Maddox” along with the two packs of Sex Assurance that were ordered. Both packs of Sex Assurance were labeled “100% natural herbs.” The Sex Assurance capsules were submitted to the crime lab for analysis and tested positive for sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra. The packs did not list sildenafil as an ingredient of the product, nor did it list any identifying information of the manufacturer, packer or distributor.
In March 2019, agents executed a search warrant at Maddox’s residence. Agents found thousands of green blister-pack capsules, Sex Assurance labels, packaged Sex Assurance capsules, a computer, and other items to suggest Maddox packaged the product from his home. Maddox is not a licensed practitioner, nor has he ever registered with the Secretary of Health and Human Services to manufacture and distribute drugs as required by 21 U.S.C. § 360.
“The regulations put in place by the FDA are to be taken seriously. When individuals decide to purchase medications from outside of the United States and sell to unknowing victims, it could result in serious complications,” stated Acting United States Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook. “Cases such as these will continue to be brought against those who choose to abuse these regulations.”
“Misbranded prescription drugs that are disguised as dietary supplements and smuggled from overseas can present a serious health risk to those who buy and use them,” said Special Agent in Charge Justin C. Fielder, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Miami Field Office. “The drugs often contain undisclosed active pharmaceutical ingredients and are made under unknown conditions. We will continue to investigate and bring to justice those who attempt to traffic in misbranded prescription drugs.”
The defendant, William Earl Maddox, faces a sentence of not more than three years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Sentencing has been set for Dec. 10, 2021.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica D. Cassidy is prosecuting the case.
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