News in brief

5-Hour Energy counterfeiter gets 7 years in federal prison

Photo: Austin Kirk/Flickr

One of the primary defendants in the 5-Hour Energy counterfeit case, Walid Jamil, has been sentenced to seven years in prison and an additional three years of supervised release.

This punishment goes on top of a $10 million civil judgment against him, as well as $555,801.32 in criminal restitution to Living Essentials, the makers of 5-Hour Energy, which is owed more than $20 million by the three main defendants of the case.

Preceding the trial and verdict was a lengthy hunt for the counterfeiters, a process which started in 2012, when the distribution of ‘slightly off’ product and product packaging came to the attention of Living Essentials. Also at that time, 5-Hour Energy was receiving bad press due to an FDA investigation that linked the product to 13 deaths.

“It is important that Mr. Jamil is being punished, but it is equally important that others will be deterred,” said Geofrey Potter, who represented 5-Hour Energy in the case. “While the $10 million judgment we won against Mr. Jamil in the civil case is certainly a deterrent, nothing deters like a lengthy prison sentence.”

Setting the tone for future food, beverage or supplement counterfeiting

According to Potter, the outcome of this case has positive implications for the food and beverage industry (as well as for dietary supplements, which 5-Hour Energy is).

"While most counterfeits are manufactured in China, here the counterfeits were made—on a massive scale—in California,” he told FoodNavigator-USA. “Because the counterfeiting took place in the United States, it was easier for the US Attorney to prosecute this case.

"As the judge commented when handing down this harsh sentence, she not only wanted to punish Mr. Jamil, she wanted to deter others from counterfeiting things that we consume. She explained that this type of counterfeiting puts the public at risk and people need to know that it will be punished severely."

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