Vendor of StarCaps, which resulted in suspensions for former Saints, pleads guilty to misbranding drug

A socialite whose weight-loss supplement was linked to banned-substances suspensions for three New Orleans Saints and a few other NFL players several years ago pleaded guilty Wednesday to misbranding the drug, according to Reuters.

Nikki Haskell — known to appear at events involving Aretha Franklin and Ivana Trump — as well as her company, Balanced Health Products Inc., pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal district court to a misdemeanor count of misbranding in connection with the sale of a pill called StarCaps, whose label did not disclose the presence of a diuretic called bumetanide, Reuters reported, via Yahoo Sports.

That diuretic was banned by the NFL. In 2008, former Saints running backs Deuce McAllister as well as defensive ends Charles Grant and Will Smith tested positive for it, and the league issued them suspensions.

The players appealed the discipline, though, and both McAllister and Grant were out of the NFL before the proceedings were resolved. Ultimately, only Smith served a suspension, and it was for two games in 2011.

Reuters quoted Haskell’s lawyer, Chris Mancini, as saying the defendant didn’t know StarCaps contained bumetanide, which he said was added by the supplement’s manufacturer in Peru.

Both that statement and the fact Haskell admitted her drug was not branded properly are strong indications the players had no way of knowing the banned diuretic was in the StarCaps supplement. The NFL declined to give Reuters comment.

Haskell is reportedly looking at no more than a year in prison. But her lawyer, Chris Mancini, told Reuters she possibly may only need to pay a fine of $60,000 to $100,000 under a plea deal.