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Makers of tainted supplements have criminal pasts

December 2013

Like many pills and powders sold as dietary supplements, Dr. Larry's Tranquility pills were not what they seemed.

And neither was Dr. Larry.

The pills promised insomniacs a great night's sleep with an all-natural blend of ingredients such as figwort root and licorice.

Then, earlier this summer, these particular pills — out of an estimated 85,000 supplement products on the market — happened to get tested in a lab by regulators from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The agency is budgeted to run just 1,000 tests a year in its limited oversight of the $30 billion industry.

The tests showed Tranquility was spiked with two powerful prescription drugs: an anti-psychotic medication best known as Thorazine, and the anti-depressant and sleep medication called doxepin.

Research by USA TODAY shows that Larry LeGunn is a convicted criminal and not a licensed doctor. He's a former chiropractor who had to give up his Florida license in 2010 after being charged with grand theft and insurance fraud relating to his treatment of auto accident victims, according to court and licensing records. LeGunn ultimately pleaded no contest to an amended charge of misleading solicitation of payments.

Far from an isolated case, a USA TODAY investigation finds that a wide array of dietary supplement companies caught with drug-spiked products are run by people with criminal backgrounds and regulatory run-ins. 

Read the full story at USA TODAY or in this pdf.

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