Taylor Hooton Foundation > Hoot’s Corner > General > College professor implicated in large North Texas illegal steroid distribution ring
September 29, 2015
College professor implicated in large North Texas illegal steroid distribution ring
An accomplished Auburn University science professor is among those charged in federal court in Dallas in connection with an illegal steroid distribution ring, court records show. Yonnie Wu was director of the Alabama college’s Mass Spectrometry Center in its chemistry and biochemistry department. Prosecutors say he tested steroids from China and other sources in his university lab so the conspirators could market the drugs on websites that vouched for the purity and quality of the products. Wu is charged in a five-count federal indictment that was updated last week. He no longer is listed as an Auburn faculty member. Wu has a doctorate degree and has published dozens of papers in scientific journals related to agricultural biotechnology, analytical chemistry, biophysics and mammalian cell biology, court records show. He has more than 10 patents from his work in the field and has developed medical products such as a protein mask for skin regeneration, a protein fiber for anti-aging and a testosterone-based nasal spray, records show. Michael Lee Heryford, of Washington, operated and managed the anabolic steroids ring, which included at least six others, federal authorities said. The conspiracy began around October 2013, and manufacturing labs were located in North Texas, officials said. Four of the defendants have pleaded guilty and been sentenced to federal prison time. Heryford also pleaded guilty. His sentencing is scheduled for November. Heryford told authorities that Wu and Scott Davis were involved with testing the drugs, which he obtained from “different clandestine manufacturers.” Each test cost about $75. Davis used steroids and worked at Auburn University from 2006 to November 2013, records show. Heryford said he shipped samples, many of which came from China, directly to Wu and also had Davis deliver them. Wu used Auburn University laboratory equipment to test for concentrations, purity and quality of the steroids, according to a federal complaint. At one point, Wu shut down the steroid testing for a few months after his graduate student questioned the legality of their actions, the complaint said. Wu resumed the tests after the student graduated, court records show. At least once, Heryford emailed Wu to “alert him to expect shipments of samples for testing disguised as innocuous products, such as ‘Chinese Coconut Milk Tea mix,’” the complaint said. In the fall of 2014, Wu was hoping to patent his testosterone-based nasal spray for sale to the public, the indictment said. Wu needed access to certain compounds including testosterone and human growth hormone to develop his product. He got them from Davis and Heryford, the indictment said. “Wu also sought to provide certain amounts of HGH to clients he maintained in China,” the indictment said. Heryford and a co-defendant sold about $600,000 worth of steroids in seven months with the help of Wu’s testing, the indictment said. http://crimeblog.dallasnews.com/2015/09/college-professor-implicated-in-large-north-texas-illegal-steroid-distribution-ring.html/