Burlington County businessman sentenced for COVID fraud scheme

Matthew Fazelpoor//December 12, 2022//

Burlington County businessman sentenced for COVID fraud scheme

Matthew Fazelpoor//December 12, 2022//

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Late last week, Paul Andrecola, a Maple Shade native, was sentenced to five years in prison for selling more than $2.7 million worth of pesticides he falsely claimed were registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as being effective against COVID-19.

The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Philip Sellinger and Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

In June, Andrecola pleaded guilty to one count each of knowingly distributing or selling an unregistered pesticide in violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), wire fraud and presenting false claims to the United States.

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“Andrecola, who controls two companies and is employed by a third company, all based in Mount Laurel, N.J., 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 N[: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2],” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a release, citing court documents and statements. “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.”

Prosecutors say from March 2020 through May 2021, Andrecola used these fraudulent representations to make more than 150 sales of unregistered pesticides — defrauding more than 75 victims for gains of more than $2.7 million.

“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 fraudsters who commit such egregious criminal acts.”

In addition to the 60-month prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Kugler also sentenced Andrecola to three years of supervised release and forfeiture of $2.74 million — the proceeds from the sale of the illegal product. He is also responsible for making full restitution for all loses resulting from the crimes.

“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.”