A New Jersey man has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of wire fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection with sports beverage “OXYwater.”
Kevin R. Foster, 40, of Montclair, New Jersey, was charged Thursday with three counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and three counts of money laundering.
U.S. District Court officials report wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Additionally, money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering are each crimes punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Court officials said the case stems from the prior prosecution of Powell resident Thomas E. Jackson and former Ohio State University football player Preston J. Harrison, who raised about $9 million from investors under false pretenses to start and market the sports beverage “OXYwater.”
The indictment alleges that Foster, the principal of his management/accounting firm, Foster & Firm Inc., and who served as business manager for Shaffer Smith (“Ne-Yo”), induced Smith to invest $2 million into OXYwater under false representations. Foster served as an officer or controller of Imperial Integrative Health Research & Development LLC in Westerville, Ohio, with Jackson and Harrison. Foster did not disclose to Smith that he served as a controller for the company or that he would earn commission based on investments.
Unbeknownst to Smith, Foster allegedly invested an additional $1.5 million of Smith’s money into the product without his consent and fraudulently took out $1.4 million in lines of credit under Smith’s name by forging his signature. It is alleged that Foster received about $800,000 in finder’s fees based on Smith’s investments into OXYwater.
Harrison and Jackson were convicted by a jury of multiple wire fraud, money laundering and tax fraud charges in March 2015, officials said. Harrison was sentenced to seven years in prison in August 2015 for his role in the scheme. Jackson was sentenced to 83 months in prison in October 2015 and must pay $8.8 million in restitution.
According to court testimony, Jackson and Preston Harrison operated Imperial, based in Westerville, Ohio, and developed OXYwater, a beverage that promoters claimed was an all-natural, vitamin-enhanced sports drink that contained added oxygen for improved physical performance.
Harrison’s wife, Lovena, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States by filing a false tax return and one count of structuring financial transactions to evade currency reporting requirements.
The Harrisons were also ordered to pay the IRS $376,000 in restitution.
The investigation was conducted by the IRS and the FBI.