Former Shark Tank Contestant Arrested As Part Of Cocaine Distribution Ring

John, Sal and Anthony Shark Tank ABC

When it's at its best, Shark Tank can be one of the most thrilling shows on television. Watching small business owners cut shrewd deals with some of the world's richest and most business savvy people in various industries is always a thrill to watch, and it can lead to some awesome life-changing moments for the business owners. Unfortunately, that success can go sideways down the line, and it looks like that's what could be happening with a former contestant on the series. John DePaola (pictured middle) was arrested and accused of taking part of a cocaine distribution ring.

John Depaola is one of nine people that were arrested Sunday, December 17 under the allegation that they collaboratively distributed cocaine in and around the area of Freehold, New Jersey. The Shark Tank contestant's official charge, according to New York Post, is conspiracy to possess cocaine, which can be an offense that carries some hefty consequences. Law enforcement officials report that they believe the nine individuals were distributing about a third of a kilo a week and that they confiscated 700 grams of cocaine and $14,943 during the bust. Depaola's lawyer dismisses the charges and calls them "baffling," while Depaola has offered no personal comment on the situation at this time.

The controversy is not a great look for John DePaola, who was featured on Season 5 of Shark Tank. DePaola came onto the series with his partners to promote The Paint Brush Cover, which keeps paint brushes wet and ready to use between coats of paint. Their pitch proved to be a success as the team walked away with a $200,000 investment from Lori Greiner and a deal that landed their product in 14,000 stores nationwide. The investment ended up paying off; a 2015 update video Shark Tank did with the company revealed the guys had netted $1.5 million in sales:

John Depaola is not the first former Shark Tank contestant to get arrested, as another contestant from Season 5 has experienced a run-in with the law as well. Mike Barzman, who pitched the Invisiplug surge protector and also got an investment from Lori Greiner was arrested in July of last year after threatening a man smoking outside of his house with a gun. The controversy didn't seem to affect the continued selling of the Invisiplug, so its possible Depaola's brush with the law won't do too much to damage the sales of The Paint Brush Cover.

Shark Tank returns to ABC Sunday, January 7 at 9:00 p.m. ET. For a look at other shows set to return in 2018, head on over to our midseason premiere guide. Those still wishing for something premiering in the final days of 2017 can visit our fall premiere guide. For a list of shows that were canceled in 2017 and some explanation as to why they were canceled, head over to our cancellation guide.

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.