Paul Andrecola, 63, of Maple Shade, New Jersey, was sentenced to five years in prison and three years of supervised release and forfeiture of $2.74 million by U.S. District Court Judge Robert B. Kugler in Camden.
Andrecola had previously been charged with one count of knowingly distributing or selling an unregistered pesticide in violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), one count of wire fraud and one count of presenting false claims to the United States.
The EPA has responsibility under FIFRA to regulate the manufacture, labeling and distribution of all pesticides shipped or received in interstate commerce. All pesticides must be registered with the EPA before the pesticide can be sold or distributed. Moreover, before pesticide products can legally make claims that they can kill a particular pathogen such as SARS-CoV-2, the claim must be authorized by EPA based on a review of data.
In March 2020, at the beginning of the global pandemic, the EPA created a list of EPA-registered products that it deemed to be effective against SARS-CoV-2, titled “List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2.” The EPA has continued to update this list since its creation.
According to documents filed in this case, and statements made in court, Andrecola, who owns and operates three companies based in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, manufactured various disinfectant products, including liquids and wipes, under the brand name GCLEAN.
GCLEAN products were unregistered pesticides under FIFRA and none of the products were on EPA’s List of Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2.” Rather, Andrecola placed another company’s EPA Registration Numbers on his company’s products, and falsely marketed that his products were EPA-approved to kill Coronavirus by creating numerous false documents to support his claims.
This falsified documentation was presented to potential customers, claiming that various sanitizer and wipe products in the names GCLEAN and/or GC200 were EPA-registered products on EPA’s list to persuade them to purchase the unregistered pesticide products.
From approximately March 2020 through May 2021, Andrecola used these fraudulent representations to make more than 150 sales of unregistered pesticides for a profit of more than $2.7 million. The purchasers of these unregistered pesticides included a police department in Delaware, a fire department in Virginia, a medical clinic in Georgia, a janitorial supply company in New York, a school district in Wisconsin, as well as numerous U.S. government agencies (namely, the U.S. Marshal’s Service, Moody Air Force Base, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Forest Service).
“Today’s sentence holds the defendant accountable for perpetrating the largest pandemic fraud case related to the sale of unregistered pesticides charged nationwide,” said Special Agent in Charge Tyler Amon of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in New Jersey. “This case underscores EPA’s commitment to hold violators accountable for placing the public at risk by failing to ensure the integrity and safety of their products.”