Stephen Joseph Heuer, 48, formerly of Aptos in Santa Cruz County, was indicted for conspiracy, illegal distribution of a human growth hormone, distribution of misbranded drugs, mail fraud and tax evasion.
According to the indictment, Heuer owned a company, Cocoon Nutrition, which included nutritional supplement stores in Cupertino and Campbell.
The business focused on selling products containing synthetic human growth hormone, or HGH. Doctors prescribe HGH to some children with deficiencies and some preliminary studies indicate it could reduce body fat in adults, according to the Mayo Clinic Web site.
Heuer also operated a Web site to distribute products he claimed contained HGH, U.S. Attorney Joseph P. Russoniello said, and distributed products falsely advertised as containing the hormone.
The company sold HGH to persons without a valid prescription, for use in ways outside "the usual course of professional practice, and not for medical purposes," according to a statement from the Internal Revenue Service's criminal investigation department.
In addition to making medical claims through radio, e-mail and Internet advertising, Heuer sent packages of "bunk HGH" to customers across the country through U.S. mail.
Heuer's associate, Robert Bohen, of Orange County, was also charged. Bohen also helped supply the items supposedly containing HGH.
Additionally, Heuer is charged with failing to report income from selling these products between 2002 and 2004 on federal tax returns. The indictment alleges he used a variety of techniques to conceal this income, including offshore bank accounts and claiming not to be an American citizen.
Heuer was arrested Wednesday in South Carolina and appeared in federal court that same day. He was booked on a $500,000 bail, and has a potential court date on Thursday, Jan. 29 at 9:30 a.m. in San Jose.