Eight people have been convicted in federal court in San Jose and will be sentenced in April for their roles in a scheme that sold more than 4 million bottles of a counterfeit energy drink.
In the most recent convictions, Joseph Shayota, 64, and Adriana Shayota, 45, of El Cajon, described by prosecutors as the leaders of the ring, were found guilty of two counts Monday by a jury in the court of U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh.
The two counts were conspiring to sell counterfeit goods and conspiring to commit criminal copyright infringement and sell misbranded food in interstate commerce.
They will be sentenced by Koh on April 5 and face up to 15 years in prison.
Six other people in the scheme previously pleaded guilty before Koh to one or both of the same charges and will be sentenced on various dates between February and May.
The Shayotas were co-owners of a purported export company called Baja Exporting LLC. In 2009, they arranged with an Indiana company called Living Essentials to sell the company’s energy drink, 5-hour ENERGY, in Mexico. The drink contains caffeine and vitamins. They received a discount of nearly 40 percent on the bottles to be exported.
Instead of selling the drink in Mexico, however, the Shayotas and their associates replaced the Spanish labels on the containers with English labels that had false lot numbers and expiration dates, and sold the bottles in the United States at 15 percent below the usual price, according to prosecution documents.
When they ran out of the original stock of 350,000 bottles, the ring members began manufacturing counterfeit drinks at an unsanitary facility, according to U.S. attorney’s office spokesman Abraham Simmons.
In 2012, the group sold 4 million bottles of the counterfeit drink. Some of the bottles were shipped to distributors in San Jose, Oakland, Brisbane and West Sacramento, according to prosecution documents.
A ninth person charged in the scheme, Juan Romero, is a fugitive.