Richard Verstegan 5 a.m., March 12
Michael Ellis, a Founder of Metabolife, Gets Six Months in Custody for Lying to FDA
Michael Ellis, one of the founders of Metabolife, today (June 9) was sentenced to six months in custody for lying to the Food and Drug Administration. In 1998 and 1999, Ellis and Metabolife sent letters to the FDA stating that the company had "never received a notice from a consumer that any serious adverse health event has occurred because of the ingestion" of the company's main product containing the deadly (and since banned) ephedra. But Metabolife's own documents showed that the company had received reports of seizures, heart attacks, strokes and other serious health problems. In 1988, Ellis and Michael Blevins were arrested for making methamphetamine. Blevins got five and a half years behind bars and Ellis got probation. Those two plus Robert Bradley later founded Metabolife, which, after initially prospering greatly, went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2005. In November of 2003, an Internal Revenue Service affidavit was unsealed. It charged that the three founders had skimmed money out of the company and stashed it in offshore tax havens. Bradley was sentenced to six months of confinement for tax evasion in 2006. That was after he had become a business partner of San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders.