• Google translate:  
Increase Font Sizesmallerreset
Home arrow Commercial Cults arrow Herbalife arrow Herbalife CEO Died after 4-Day Binge

Herbalife CEO Died after 4-Day Binge

Herbalife CEO Died after 4-Day Binge, Autopsy Reveals

David Evans

©2000 Bloomberg, LP

August 11, 2000

Herbalife International Inc.'s Chief Executive Mark Hughes died after a four-day drinking binge, according to the full report by the Los Angeles Coroner. Hughes, 44, who promoted natural healing methods using Herbalife's health care and weight-loss products, was being treated by a psychiatrist for his drinking problem and smoked six to eight cigars a day, according to the coroner's 24-page report. He founded the company 20 years ago.

On June 16, the coroner found that Hughes died May 21 of an overdose of alcohol and a toxic level of doxepin, an anti- depressant. His blood alcohol level was 0.21 percent. The autopsy also showed his body tested negative for ephedrine.

Three months before he died, Hughes amended his family trust on Feb. 2 to give his wife, Darcy, $10 million within 45 days of his death.

Darcy LaPier became Hughes' fourth wife on Feb. 14, 1999. Before that, a court ordered her former husband, Jean Claude Van Damme, to provide $112,000 a month in support for her and their son. She married the Belgian actor after divorcing Hawaiian Tropic suntan lotion mogul Ron Rice, who she married in 1990 after competing in a Miss Hawaiian Tropic beauty pageant.

Mrs. Hughes told investigators that her husband was drinking before he fell asleep on the evening of May 20 on the living room sofa of their $27 million Malibu oceanfront estate. At midnight, she went to sleep after he "resisted her efforts" to wake him. She tried and failed once again to rouse him at 1 a.m., according to the autopsy, before going to sleep in a room adjacent to her husband's bedroom. At 10:30 the next morning, she went into Hughes' bedroom and found him lying on his side on the bed.

"She observed that he did not look right,'' according to the autopsy and used a radio to summon Tetsu Nagahata, one of the security guards posted around-the-clock at the home. Hughes was pronounced dead by paramedics at 11:15 a.m., who were called after Nagahata attempted to administer CPR. Nagahata declined to comment.

In addition to the doxepin, Hughes was prescribed Antibuse, a drug used to treat alcoholism, by Stephen Scappa, his psychiatrist, who runs Substance Abuse Alternatives in Beverly Hills and is certified in treating addiction. Scappa declined to comment, citing patient confidentiality.