PITTSBURGH (AP) — An Ohio man who sold fake urine and other products meant to help people pass workplace drug tests has pleaded guilty before a federal judge in Pennsylvania.
David Neal, 61 of Middletown, Ohio, pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to defraud the United States and introduction of misbranded drugs into interstate commerce. He faces up to six years in prison when he returns to Pittsburgh for sentencing May 13.
U.S. Attorney David Hickton said Neal sold illegal substances online beginning in 2006 through his company, ACS Herbal Tea.
Some of Neal's products, including "Magnum Unisex Synthetic Urine" and "Urine Luck," were designed to thwart tests overseen by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Such tests are used by the U.S. Department of Transportation to screen airline pilots, truck drivers and train engineers, as well as some federal employees, including FBI agents. Court records indicate undercover agents bought some of the products in 2010 and 2012 as part of the investigation into Neal's company.
Neal's case is similar to that of Stephen Sharp, a former US Airways Express pilot who pleaded guilty in 2010 to selling a powdered drink mix over the Internet that he claimed was 100 percent effective in helping pilots and others pass the federally mandated drug tests. Sharp, of Port Orange, Florida, was sentenced to nine months in federal prison and lost his pilot's job after pleading guilty, also in Pittsburgh.
Neal's attorney, Paul Laufman, told the judge at Monday's guilty plea hearing that Neal now realizes his products "are not as harmless as he thought," the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported. Laufman declined to comment when contacted Tuesday by The Associated Press.
Neal's plea on the misbranded drug charge stemmed from the sale of two products, "Eliminator Detox Carbo Drink" and "Quick Flush Herbal Detox Pills." Those products were also designed to flush drug residue from a person's system. The government considers those products to be drugs, but Neal didn't identify the substances that way on labels or in advertisements, prosecutors said.
Neal remains free on bond pending his sentencing. He could face a fine of up to $350,000 and probation after any prison term that may be imposed.