'Shark Tank' Contestant Arrested in Massive Drug Bust

A former contestant on the ABC's Shark Tank was arrested last week in a cocaine distribution ring bust.

John DePaola, 53, was arrested Sunday in a large drug bust in New Jersey, the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office said, NJ.com reports.

In an operation prosecutors are calling "Operation Snowball," authorities claim DePaola is one of nine people tied to a cocaine distribution ring, including the group's alleged ringleader, 48-year-old Huga Hernandez.

DePaola and others were charged with conspiracy to possess cocaine following a nine-month investigation.

The group was allegedly moving about two-thirds of a pound of drugs per week. Cops say they confiscated more than 700 grams of cocaine, as well as $14,943, according to TMZ.

DePaola and his entrepreneur team previously gained popularity and major cash when they successfully pitched the Paint Brush Cover on Shark Tank in 2014. The product was essentially two pieces of plastic that snap together and, with use of a foam seal, keep a wet paint brush from drying or hardening between uses.

On the episode, QVC queen Lori Greiner outbid the other sharks for the $200,000 deal. In an update featured in a later episode, the company, called Likwid Concepts, now sells its brush and roller covers in 14,000 stores nationwide. In the nine months after their episode aired, the company grew from $35,000 in sales to $1.5 million.


DePaola's attorney, Herbert Ellis, said his client was a "highly regarded individual in the community," and the charge against him was "a mistake," NJ.com reports.