Jury Finds 5-hour Energy Counterfeit Kingpins Guilty

Posted On: 12/8/2016

  • Printer Friendly Version
  • Decrease Text SizeIncrease Text Size
  • PDF

TAGS: U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, 5-hour Energy shot counterfeits, 5-hour counterfeiter ringleaders, Joseph Shayota, Adriana Shayota, Geoffrey Potter

SAN FRANCISCO -- A jury in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Nov. 29 delivered a landmark guilty verdict against the two leaders of an elaborate ring that counterfeited millions of bottles of 5-hour Energy shots. Ringleaders Joseph and Adriana Shayota are husband and wife. | READ MORE

Others in the 11-member ring recently plead guilty to felonies. They are expected to receive lengthy prison sentences and to get hit with millions of dollars in fines. One member remains at large.

The defendants were accused of setting up an illegal and unsanitary factory in San Diego, CA, and flooding the nation with millions of bottles of fake 5-hour Energy. While the operation was discovered and shut down in 2012, the criminal case marks a dramatic shift in the Department of Justice's approach to handling counterfeit food products, which have the potential to pose public health risks.

Geoffrey Potter, chair of the anti-counterfeiting practice at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP, served as lead counsel to 5-hour Energy in the investigation into the scheme and brought the civil case against these same defendants, resulting in the seizure of the illegal factory and a $20 million-plus judgment.

"Criminal convictions profoundly change counterfeiters' risk versus reward calculations," Potter said. "Counterfeiters are merely corrupt businessmen and women and civil judgments to them are nothing more than a business expense or nuisance. However, spending years in prison is a real deterrent."

He said this particular counterfeiting scheme had the makings of a public health crisis. The defendants counterfeited almost 5 million bottles in an unsanitary and unlicensed facility.

"No one knows what went into the counterfeit bottles, over one million of which were unwittingly consumed by hundreds of thousands of Americans," he said. "I expect that the judge will recognize that this was an especially evil and dangerous crime when she sentences the defendants."