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Guilty plea of man selling unapproved drug in RI

Posted at 4:53 PM, May 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-09 19:53:41-04

Adam Alden, 29, of Bakersfield, CA, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Fresno, CA, to distributing 2,4-Dinitrophenol (DNP), a chemical used as a dye, wood preserver and herbicide, among other things, which he marketed as an extreme weight loss drug. Alden pleaded guilty to one count of introducing an unapproved drug into interstate commerce. 

According to court documents and information presented to the court, a Rhode Island customer who purchased DNP from Alden, among other sources, died in October 2013 as a result of DNP ingestion. It cannot be established beyond a reasonable doubt whether or not the DNP sold by Alden caused the customer’s death.

Alden’s guilty plea before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Stanley A. Boone is announced by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha of the District of Rhode Island, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner of the District of Eastern California, and Russell Herman, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations.

According to court documents and information presented to the court, an investigation by a U.S. Food and Drug Administration task force in Rhode Island determined that between August 2013 and January 2014, the defendant sold DNP on eBay to customers throughout the United States including Rhode Island, advertising that the product was intended for human consumption as a weight loss product. DNP is a chemical used as a dye, wood preserver and herbicide among other things. Nevertheless, it has been marketed over the years as “extremely dangerous and not fit for human consumption” under the Food and Drug Cosmetic Act of 1938.

According to court documents and information presented to the court, Alden made approximately $500 in profits from his DNP sales on eBay. 

Alden is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Stanley A. Boone on July 19, 2016. Introducing an unapproved drug into interstate commerce is punishable by up to one year in federal prison or 5 years probation; and a $100,000 fine or twice the gain/loss from the offense.

The case is being prosecuted in the District of Rhode Island by Assistant U.S. Attorney Adi Goldstein and in the Eastern District of California by Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine A. Plante.