A New Jersey man admitted on Thursday to illegally selling cleaning products he marketed as able to kill COVID-19 for a profit of $2.7 million, according to prosecutors.
Paul Andrecola pleaded guilty in a federal Camden court to wire fraud and other charges, according to a statement from the Department of Justice.
The 63-year-old Burlington County man manufactured, marketed and sold various disinfectant products, including liquids and wipes under the brand name “GCLEAN,” the department said. But his products weren’t registered with the Environmental Protection Agency as pesticides are required to be by law. They also weren't on the EPA's list of disinfectants for use against COVID-19, officials said.
Andrecola used another company’s EPA registration numbers on his products, and created false documents to support his claims, the DOJ said.
From March 2020 through May 2021, Andrecola made more than 150 sales of unregistered pesticides for a profit of more than $2.7 million, prosecutors said.
“Paul Andrecola’s scheme profited on the fears of the American people during the height of public safety concerns about the transmission of COVID-19,” U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger for the District of New Jersey said in a statement. “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 defrauded more than 75 victims, including the U.S. Marshals Service and the Department of Veterans Affairs, among other government and municipal entities, officials said.
An attorney for Andrecola could not be immediately reached for comment.
He was scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 11, and faces up to 20 years in prison, along with hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.