'Diet Queen to the Stars' fined for drug tied to NFL suspensions

Fri Jun 20, 2014 5:21pm EDT
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By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A socialite who billed herself as "Diet Queen to the Stars" was fined $60,000 on Friday by a U.S. magistrate judge for drug misbranding of a weight-loss supplement that was linked to suspensions of several NFL players in 2008.

Nikki Haskell and her defunct company, Balanced Health Products Inc, were sentenced by a federal magistrate judge in Manhattan after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge related to the sale of a pill called StarCaps. [ID:nL1N0MN1TP]

Prosecutors had sought a $100,000 fine. Haskell, 73, also faced up to six months in prison under a plea agreement announced in March.

"I am so remorseful for this," she told the judge. "It was never my intent to do anything inappropriate my entire life."

A onetime television show host, Haskell has occasionally appeared in the New York Post's Page Six gossip column. Billing herself the "Diet Queen to the Stars," she was the chief executive of Balanced Health, which marketed StarCaps as an "all natural diet supplement" containing papaya and garlic.

But in 2008, the company voluntarily recalled StarCaps citing the presence of bumetanide, which is used to treat heart failure, renal failure and high blood pressure and that also carries health risks including fluid and electrolyte loss.

Bumetanide is also banned by several sports organizations including the National Football League as a potential steroid-masking agent.

Haskell during the hearing said she was "completely unaware" StarCaps, which was manufactured in Peru, had bumetanide it, adding she had "never even heard of the product until I heard these football players were using it."   Continued...

Socialite Nikki Haskell exits the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Lower Manhattan, June 20, 2014.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid