A U.S. District Court sentenced a New Jersey businessman to five years in jail for defrauding over 75 victims in a scheme to sell fraudulent Coronavirus disinfectant products. Paul Andrecola was found guilty of selling illegal pesticides that he claimed would help disinfect against the COVID-19 virus.
The sentence was handed down by Judge Robert Kugler, who found the accused of defrauding federal agencies and police and fire departments. Paul had in June pleaded guilty to selling illegal pesticides, wire fraud, and giving false claims to the U.S.
According to the authorities, Paul took advantage of the heightened fears of the Covid-19 pandemic to convince Americans to purchase his product. He lied that his pesticide could effectively kill the coronavirus and said that he’d registered it with the Environmental Protection Agency.
The 63-year-old owns two companies and works in another one, and all are located in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. He manufactured different “Coronavirus disinfectant products” through these companies and sold them under the brand “GCLEAN.”
All pesticides sold in the United States must have EPA approval. However, the court found that EPA hadn’t registered Paul’s products even though he claimed so. The accused used another company that had acquired EPA registration and approval on his products and made false documents that supported his claims.
Some of those who bought Andrecola’s products include a Georgia medical department, a Delaware police department, a fire department in Virginia, and several other U.S. government agencies. The accused is believed to have lied to thousands of people and endangered the health of those who trusted his unregistered products.
Through his scheme, Paul made about $2.7 million in profits between March 2020-May 2021 from selling the products. According to Todd Kim, the Assistant General of the Justice Department of the Environment and Natural Resource Division, Paul committed a serious crime in the middle of a huge pandemic. He profited from people’s fears of getting the coronavirus.
He believes that through his sentencing, others can see how serious these crimes are and the government’s vigor to prosecute them. His attorney said that Paul accepted that he sold the products with the proper registration but insisted that it was a safe and effective disinfectant against Covid-19.
Besides the imprisonment, Andrecola may also be fined more than twice the profits he made selling his pesticide, according to the release.
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