Jury Comes Down On Makers Of Bogus 5-Hour Energy Drinks

In case you were wondering, the law does not mess around with counterfeit energy drinks -- oh, no.

Per the LA Times, couple Joseph and Adriana Shayota have been convicted by a federal jury due to their involvement with an elaborate scheme involving millions of bottles of counterfeit 5-Hour Energy shots being sold in the United States.

Apparently, the Shayotas actually had a contract with the 5-Hour Energy distributors, and were all set to sling the product in Mexico. Rather than abide by the rules, however, they decided to alter the Spanish-language packaging and redistribute it to American customers at prices marked very far below the normal retail price for the company.

That's a no-no, folks.

Since late 2009, approximately 350,000 bottles have been subject to the relabeling scheme, and that's not all -- in 2012, the Shayotas decided to expand their business and start marketing a totally fake energy drink that was mixed under unsanitary conditions by day laborers, reports U.S. Atty. Brian J. Stretch, who prosecuted the case, to LA Times.

Several million unsanitary fake energy drinks were produced and sold.

"U.S. consumers rely on the FDA to ensure that their foods -- and drinks -- are safe and wholesome. When criminals introduce counterfeit foods into the U.S. marketplace, they not only cheat consumers, but place consumers’ health at risk," Lisa L. Malinowski, a special agent in charge of the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations in Los Angeles, told LA Times.

So far, six other defendants plead guilty to charges connected with the elaborate scheme and Living Essentials has won a $20 million civil judgment against all of them, as well as others accused of similar charges.

"We are gratified by the court’s decision," the LA Times reports Melissa Skabich, a spokeswoman for Living Essentials, as saying. "Criminal behavior should be punished, and in this case, justice was served."

For now, the Shayotas' sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 2017, and they could potentially face as much as 15 years in prison, not to mention a hefty $2.2 million fine. Finally, Living Essentials and two separate partnerships could be eligible to receive restitution from those accused.