Retired New Jersey doctor found guilty in trial of selling toxic chemicals as weight loss drug | USAO-EDPA

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero announced that William Merlino, 85, of Mays Landing, NJ, was found guilty at trial for selling mislabeled drugs online, resulting of his plan to sell a toxic industrial chemical as a weight-loss drug that he manufactured in a lab at his home.

In December 2019, the defendant was charged with one count of introducing mislabeled drugs into interstate commerce in connection with the operation of a business through which he packaged and sold dinitriophenol (DNP) for human consumption from at least November 2017 to March 2019. In the 1930s, before the law required drugs to be proven safe before being marketed, DNP was used as a weight-loss drug despite negative side effects significant, including dehydration, cataracts, liver damage and death. The chemical was never approved for human consumption by the United States Food and Drug Administration, but has a variety of industrial/commercial uses, such as herbicides, dyes, and wood preservatives. Using Twitter to advertise, eBay to sell, and email to communicate with customers, Merlino has earned approximately $54,000 from customers in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom from the sale of this drug. . During the trial, a witness for the shipping service used by the defendant to ship the drugs to customers testified that they called Merlino among their colleagues “the yellow man” because whenever he brought a package to ship, he would have yellow dust from the chemical on his skin, fingernails and clothes.

After a year-long investigation by the FDA, investigators served a search warrant at the defendant’s residence, where they found bulk DNP, packaging and encapsulating materials, and a press. pills. Afterwards, while awaiting trial on this charge, Merlino faked a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in an attempt to avoid trial; the jury heard evidence that the defendant altered a doctor’s letter and his medical records. As a result, the defendant now faces separate obstruction of justice charges related to these fraudulent court submissions.

“The United States sets standards for the foods and drugs we ingest to keep American consumers and patients safe,” U.S. Attorney Romero said. “Defendant knowingly circumvented our nation’s regulations by marketing a dangerous chemical to people hoping for a quick and easy fix. This program puts the health and safety of many people at risk. We urge everyone to refrain to ingest DNP for any reason.

“The distribution of mislabeled, unapproved and unsafe drugs on the American market puts the health of consumers at risk,” said Special Agent in Charge George A. Scavdis, of the Washington Regional Office of the Bureau of Criminal Investigations of the United States. FDA. “We will continue to pursue and bring to justice those who endanger public health.”

“The Postal Service has no interest in being the unwitting accomplice of anyone using U.S. mail to distribute contraband or other harmful substances,” said Damon Wood, inspector in charge of the service’s Philadelphia division. United States Postal Inspection. “One of the main objectives of the Inspectorate is to rid the mail of illegal and dangerous substances which, at best, defraud our citizens, and at worst, cause serious harm. William Merlino is no different from the snake oil salesmen of a century ago. Through the hard work of inspectors, special agents from the FDA, and an Assistant United States Attorney’s Office, a jury unraveled Merlino’s lies and held him accountable.

The case has been investigated by the United States Food & Drug Administration’s Bureau of Criminal Investigations, United States Postal Inspection Service and Homeland Security Investigations and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Joan Burnes.

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