Judge: Execs could face prison for neglecting court-ordered recall

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ATLANTA - A federal judge is considering throwing two Gwinnett County-based executives in prison for not following a court-ordered recall of their products.

Channel 2’s Tony Thomas went to the federal courthouse in downtown Atlanta, where the judge had harsh words for the leaders of Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals.

The judge called the company's latest report on its recall of four weight loss products an insult and a joke.

Lawyers for the Federal Trade Commission wants two executives behind bars until the company recalls everything.

Hi-tech Pharmaceuticals CEO Jared Wheat and manager Steve Smith listened as a frustrated Judge Charles Parnell opened the hearing with a stern warning, saying “they keep violating the order…just stalling the court.”

In May, the federal judge fined Wheat and Smith and Hi-Tech $40 million and ordered the Norcross-based company to recall four weight loss products -- Fastin, Liprodrene, Benzedrine and Stimerex ES -- because false claims were being made on the packaging. 

But as late July, federal investigators say they found some of the recall packaging still on store shelves in Chicago, Los Angeles and Dallas.

Lawyers for Hi-Tech insist company executives did everything they could to get the packages returned.

“We did what we thought was sufficient and in good faith,” defense attorney Jack Wenick told the judge.

He says the defendants’ efforts included mailing letters and making phone calls to retailers.

The judge says he may throw the CEO in jail and dissolve the company.