Makers of OXYwater Indicted for Wire Fraud, Tax Crimes
COLUMBUS, OH—A federal grand jury has indicted Preston J. Harrison, 42, of Lewis Center, Ohio, and his business partner, Thomas E. Jackson, 39, of Powell, Ohio, alleging that they defrauded their company’s investors and diverted investors’ funds for their own personal use. Preston Harrison and his wife, Lovena E. Harrison, 41, are also charged with conspiracy and filing a false income tax return.
Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; Kathy Enstrom, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS); and Kevin Cornelius, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), announced the indictment today following the defendants’ arrests.
According to court documents, Harrison and Jackson operated Westerville, Ohio-based Imperial Integrated Health Research and Development LLC and developed a product called OXYwater, a beverage that promoters claimed was an all-natural, vitamin-enhanced sports drink that contained added oxygen for improved physical performance.
The indictment alleges that defendants engaged in a scheme to deceive the investors in their company about the structure, composition, finances, sales, and profits of OXYwater in order to make the company appear to be a lucrative and profitable financial investment. Preston Harrison and Jackson allegedly produced and sent false and fraudulent statements intended to deceive investors, the ultimate purpose of such false statements being for Jackson and Preston Harrison to obtain money invested in the company and misappropriate it for their own personal use and household expenditures including the purchase of jewelry, an Escalade, a BMW, weapons, clothing, and a swimming pool.
Jackson and Preston Harrison allegedly misappropriated more than $2 million of the investors’ funds between August 2010 and spring 2013. The indictment says that defendants’ scheme caused investors to suffer substantial losses when the corporation was forced to declare bankruptcy with no assets. As a result of defendants’ alleged conduct, investors lost approximately $9 million.
The indictment charges the Harrisons with conspiracy to obstruct the IRS and with filing a false tax return. Preston Harrison allegedly misappropriated approximately $1.1 million from his company. The indictment charges that he and his wife placed the money in an account in the name of Lovena Harrison’s daycare business, used the money for personal expenses, and did not report the money as income on their 2011 income tax return.
The 34-count indictment charges Preston Harrison and Jackson with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine counts of wire fraud, each punishable by up to 20 years in prison. They are also charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and 20 counts of money laundering, each punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The indictment charges each of the Harrisons with one count of conspiracy to obstruct the IRS and one count of filing a false tax return. Each count is punishable by up to five years in prison. Lovena Harrison is charged with one count of structuring financial transactions to evade reporting requirements, also punishable by up to five years in prison.
The indictment seeks a total of $1,134,250 in forfeiture from Preston Harrison and Jackson, including two vehicles, eight weapons, cash, and the contents of a bank account, alleging that the amount represents the proceeds of the crimes.
The defendants appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Preston Deavers in Columbus today and were released on recognizance bonds. Senior U.S. District Judge James L. Graham is presiding over the case and will schedule all future proceedings.
U.S. Attorney Stewart commended the cooperative investigation by the IRS and FBI and Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Fulton, who is prosecuting the case.
An indictment merely contains allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.
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