A Burlington County man admitted to a scheme that defrauded more than 75 victims of over $2.7 million by selling pesticides he falsely claimed were effective against COVID-19.
Paul Anrecola, a 63-year-old from Maple Shade, pleaded guilty June 9 before U.S. District Court Judge Robert Kugler in Camden to 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 announcement was made by U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Philip Sellinger and Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
“Paul Andrecola’s scheme profited on the fears of the American people during the height of concerns about transmission of COVID-19,” said Sellinger. “Our office is dedicated to protecting public health and prosecuting to the full extent of the law those who commit such egregious criminal acts.”
“Andrecola not only cheated dozens of people out of millions of dollars, but also endangered the health of those who relied on his fraudulent virucidal products,” said Kim. “The Department of Justice is committed to prosecuting such crimes to the fullest extent possible.”
According to the documents and statements made in court:
Andrecola, who controls two companies and is employed by a third company, all based in Mount Laurel, manufactured various disinfectant products, including liquid and wipes, under the brand name “GCLEAN.” GCLEAN products were unregistered under FIFRA and none of the products were on the EPA’s List N. 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. Andrecola, or others at his behest, would provide this falsified documentation to potential customers representing that various sanitizer and wipe products in the names GCLEAN or GC200 were EPA-registered products List N to persuade them to purchase the unregistered pesticide products.
From March 2020 through May 2021, Andrecola used this false pretense to rack up more than 150 sales of unregistered pesticides for a profit of more than $2.7 million.
As part of the plea agreement, Andrecola consented to forfeit $2.74 million – the proceeds from the sale of the illegal product – and to make full restitution for all losses resulting from the crimes.
“The announcement represents 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 with our law enforcement partners to hold violators accountable when they undercut the level playing field used by law abiding companies to ensure the integrity and safety of their products.”