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An infomercial producer whose company was ordered by a Boston federal court to disgorge nearly $49 million to the Federal Trade Commission for deceptive advertising, has pleaded guilty to misbranding drugs and filing a false tax return. On May 2, Donald Barrett Jr. of Plymouth, Mass., pleaded guilty in Boston federal court to subscribing to a false tax return. His amended 2003 tax return omitted a significant portion of his income that year, according to the court papers. The government alleged that the income excluded money that Barrett received directly from a company his company hired to bill customers who bought products featured in the infomercials he produced. Barrett also pleaded guilty to causing a misbranded drug known as Supreme Greens to be introduced into interstate commerce in 2004. According to the government, the Supreme Greens bottle was misbranded because it lacked directions for the treatment of cancer or diabetes, which a Barrett-produced infomercial claimed the drug could prevent. Barrett faces up to three years in prison, one year of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. District Judge Richard Stearns scheduled sentencing for July 27. Barrett was founder, president and 50% owner of infomercial distributor Direct Marketing Concepts, and a related company that produced the infomercials, ITV Direct Inc. The profits from Supreme Greens comprised one of two product-line profits that Judge George O’Toole of the District of Massachusetts ordered Direct Marketing Concepts Inc. and several other co-defendants to disgorge in August 2009. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit upheld O’Toole’s order in the case, Federal Trade Commission v. Direct Marketing Concepts Inc., last October. Barrett’s lawyer, Bill Kettlewell of Boston’s Collora LLP, said “neither of the charges have much to do with the FTC action.” “The FTC typically doesn’t enforce through the [Federal Food] Drug and Cosmetic Act,” Kettlewell said. “It was a negotiated resolution that we were able to reach with the government. This would end any prosecution or further actions against Mr. Barrett.” It’s not clear what the misbranding charge stems from, said Peter Brooks, a Boston litigation partner at Chicago-based Seyfarth Shaw who represented Direct Marketing at the 1st Circuit but who was not involved in litigating the criminal matter. “I guess I would say I was surprised at the criminal investigation that has been going on for years that focused on the infomercials, and at the end of the day there was a single tax charge [aside from the misbranding],” Brooks said. Sheri Qualters can be contacted at [email protected].

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