It sounded like a good deal at the time. Investors who bought into OXYwater thought they were getting a piece of a successful and fast-growing company that made sports drinks.
But according to prosecutors, they were investing in the opulent lifestyle of Preston J. Harrison, 43, and Lovena Harrison, 42, an Ohio couple who simply took investors' money and spent it on themselves.
The two were sentenced to prison in U.S. District Court yesterday for their roles in a fraud scheme related to the company Imperial Integrative Health Research and Development LLC and its product, OXYwater.
“Preston Harrison and his co-conspirators made OXYwater appear to be a lucrative and profitable financial investment, touting investments and endorsements from athletes, a musician and others,” said U.S. Attorney Carter M. Stewart. “After they convinced folks to invest, they misappropriated that money to fuel their own lavish lifestyle, buying items like jewelry, luxury vehicles, weapons and swimming pools.”
Preston Harrison was sentenced to serve 83 months in prison and three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $375,985.15 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and $8,840,706 to victims of the fraud, and to forfeit $1.1 million, including two vehicles, eight weapons, cash, and the contents of a bank account.
Lovena Harrison was sentenced to serve one year and one day in prison and three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $375,985.15 in restitution to the IRS.
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.
The defendants engaged in a scheme to deceive the investors in Imperial about Imperial and OXYwater’s structure, composition, finances, sales, and profits in order to make the company appear to be a lucrative and profitable financial investment, according to evidence introduced in court. They produced and sent false documents to deceive investors, then misappropriated that money for their own personal use, including the purchase of jewelry, a Cadillac Escalade, a BMW vehicle, weapons, clothing, home improvements, and a swimming pool.
Another defendant in the case awaits sentencing in October.