The ‘active ingredient’ of a coffee product leads to an admission of guilt in a fraud case

The ‘active ingredient’ of a coffee product leads to an admission of guilt in a fraud case

An Arizona man has pleaded guilty in federal court in Vermont to a fraud charge for trying to sell a coffee product marketed as a “natural” way to treat erectile dysfunction. Laboratory tests showed that the product marketed as “Hard Coffee” contained tadalafil, the active ingredient in the erection health drug Cialis.

William Jack Powell, 60, of Kingman, Arizona, pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in Burlington to a charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Specifically, Powell is alleged to have “knowingly conspired to introduce coffee spiked with tadalafil with the intent to defraud or mislead.”

Judge Christina Reiss set a sentencing hearing for September 9.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Powell faces up to five years in prison, although the actual sentence will be determined taking into account advisory federal sentencing guidelines.

Powell is currently free on conditions, including that he not contact witnesses who were part of the case against him.

John-Claude Charbonneau, a Vermont attorney listed in the lawsuits as representing Powell, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act prohibits, “with certain exceptions not applicable to these facts,” the “introduction or supply for introduction” of food to which a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved drug has been added, according to charging documents In the suitcase.

The filing stated that in May 2023, an unnamed “Cooperating Defendant” participated in conversations via a cell phone app with Powell about a product called Hard Coffee.

“Powell described the product as containing 95% coffee and 5% active ingredient,” the charging documents say. “Powell said he previously sold the product as an all-natural alternative to Cialis/Viagra, but the product was sold out and needed help manufacturing it.”

Powell sent a sample of the product to an individual in Vermont, which was “secured” by federal authorities and tested in a laboratory. The results showed a mixture of caffeine and tadalafil, the active ingredient in the FDA-approved prescription drug Cialis used to treat erectile dysfunction, the filing said.

According to the loading documents, there was no indication on the bottles that the product contained tadalafil.

Several people, including the “Cooperating Defendant,” helped Powell obtain new supplies

Hard coffee containing tadalafil manufactured by foreign companies and then imported into the United States, according to charging documents.

In October 2023, the filing said, Powell told the “Cooperating Defendant” that he had plans to sell the product and had created a website to do so. Powell requested that the product be shipped to him in Arizona.

The website was live in October, the filing said, describing the product as “a natural alternative to traditional ED medications that has no adverse side effects. If you have taken the ‘blue pill’ before, you may have suffered from headaches or negative effects, but with HARD COFFEE that is not the case.”

A “Buy Now” link on the website offered the product for $24.95, which would be good for three cups of hard coffee, according to cost documents.

The website also stated: “For maximum results, we recommend only three to four cups of coffee per week.”

A sealed federal arrest warrant was issued for Powell in October 2023, and he was taken into custody in Nevada in November 2023, court records show.