Woman gets probation for supplement drugs

The owner of a Lafayette nail salon and herbal supplement business was sentenced Friday to three years probation and also must pay $365,000 for selling a diet drug that had been pulled from the market.

Thuy Thi Kim Nguyen pleaded guilty in May to a federal charge related to selling unapproved weight-loss drugs through her business, Mirage Nail Salon in the 3300 block of Verot School Road.

Prosecutors alleged that she made about $365,380 selling the diet drugs during a two-year period.

Nguyen’s business marketed the weight-loss supplements as “all herbal,” but federal investigators said the supplements contained Sibutramine, a prescription diet drug that the maker pulled from the U.S. market over concerns of increased risk for stroke and heart attack.

The supplements sold under the names “Extreme Body Reshape” and “Figure Reshape.”

The products were specially manufactured in China for Nguyen and sold over the Internet and at her nail salon and also distributed for resale to other stores in Lafayette and Abbeville, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors argued that Nguyen knew the supplement contained Sibutramine because she had researched the drug on the Internet and had been put on notice via letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“You just turned a blind eye because you were making a whole lot of money in this endeavour,” U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Foote told Nguyen before sentencing.

Nguyen faced a recommended sentence ranging 18 months to 24 months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines.

The judge opted instead to sentence Nguyen to three years probation, citing her lack of criminal history and the large amount she owes the federal government.

Nguyen has already paid federal officials $120,000 to spare residential and commercial property that was subject to seizure because of its connection to the allegations, and she forfeited $2,700 in cash that agents seized during a October 2011 search of her business.

She also has agreed to forfeit another $365,380 in cash, property or other assets to pay the government for the proceeds from the sale of the diet drugs.

Nguyen’s attorney, James Marcus, had asked for leniency in the case, telling that Nguyen had led an exemplarily life as a small businesswoman devoted to her family and community.

“You look at her life and it is blemish free,” he said. “... She doesn’t even have a parking ticket.”