July 22, 2009

‘Smilin’ Bob’ grandmother avoids jail

An Ohio grandmother convicted of fraud and money laundering tied to the Smilin' Bob male enhancement pill is free on bond pending an appeal, a judge ruled.

Harriet Warshak, 75, had faced two years in prison after being found guilty in September of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, bank fraud and money laundering in her role at Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals of Forest Park, Ohio.

Berkeley made Enzyte, widely advertised on U.S. TV as the once daily tablet for natural male enhancement.

The commercials featured a character known as Smilin' Bob, who the double entendres implied had a perpetual smile due to Enzyte's enhancing effects. Some commercials featured an equally smiling Mrs. Bob.

Following thousands of consumer complaints, federal agents raided Berkeley's facilities, gathering material that resulted in a 112-count criminal indictment.

Charges included lying to banks, concealing profits and misleading customers with false products claims.

Berkeley was forced into bankruptcy following the convictions and fines. The company's assets were sold in December to Ohio real estate developer Chuck Kubicki for $2.75 million.

U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel allowed Warshak, 75, to remain free as long as she turned over her house, bank accounts and all other assets linked to her crimes, the Cincinnati Inquirer reported.

Federal prosecutors had wanted her bond revoked.

Warshak's son, Steve Warshak, is serving a 25-year prison sentence, while several other company executives are serving one-year terms.