The July/August issue of Men’s Health featured a story on the increasing problem of seemingly “natural” supplements spiked with prescription drugs. We’d like to let you know about a couple of arrests, including one involving a company featured in our story. (Coincidence?)
Steven Wood of Danville, Virgina, owner of Competitive Edge Labs, was taken into custody in September and charged with distributing anabolic steroids and money laundering. Deputies from the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s office apprehended Wood as he arrived at his office to supervise delivery of a new shipment from China. Officers found several hundred pounds of what appeared to be powdered anabolic steroids shipped from Shanghai, and about $300,000 stashed in Wood’s vehicle. Agents from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security are assisting in the investigation, as is a former employee turned informant.
As we reported this summer—and as is noted in the criminal complaint—Wood would receive his product from China, then have it packed into capsules and bottled in the United States for online sales labeled “supplements.” In our original story, no company representative would talk to us, but we had obtained a sworn deposition from John Dodd, a company employee. He told Houston-based attorney Jason Gibson that Competitive Edge Labs brought in about $4 million a year with only four employees. Dodd said his salary was $55,000. Where did the rest of the money go? That was never really clear from the testimony. (The boss’s car?) Investigators found several bank accounts associated with the business.
Also in September, federal authorities unsealed an indictment issued last April against Kelly Harvey, an industry veteran who ran the company NovaCare, which is based in Utah and manufactured products like “Stiff Nights,” marketed as a natural alternative for sexual enhancement. Federal authorities say the product actually contained a drug similar to Viagra. Like Wood, Harvey would receive his raw product from China, and then repackage it under his own brand, according to the indictment. He’s been charged with a long list of crimes, including money laundering, conspiracy, and wire fraud.
These cases underscore a point we made back this summer: The supplement industry insists that the problem comes from mostly shadowy foreign operators, but the truth is no one really knows. Both these guys were based right here in the United States. Despite the fact that they may be standing trial, the problem is too big for law enforcement alone. For every one caught, more are waiting to sell you something. It’s up to you whether to buy it.