7-Eleven owner in NJ charged with selling bootleg sanitizer that burned children
RIVER VALE — The owner of a Bergen County 7-Eleven has been charged with four counts of child endangerment after the store sold bootleg spray bottles of sanitizer that police say burned several boys.
Manisha Bharade, 47, of Wood-Ridge, is facing the third-degree felony charges related to the three 10-year-old and one 11-year-old victims as well as a deceptive business practices misdemeanor.
Township police seized five bottles of the sanitizer on Monday night after receiving word on social media that the boys had been injured. Prosecutors say as many as nine bottles may have been sold.
Police said the store mixed foaming sanitizer, which was not labeled for resale, with water and sold it in 3-oz bottles labeled "Spray Sanitizer." The spray bottles still had their after-market brand labels on them.
The mother of one of the boys said on her Facebook page that her son was taken to the emergency room after a rash appeared on his arms and leg.
The store also is being investigated by the state Division of Consumer Affairs, which has requested that the store preserve all records related to the creation, advertising and sale of the sanitizer sprays.
The coronavirus, which originated in China in December, has sickened more than a dozen known people in New Jersey and killed a 69-year-old Bergen County man on Tuesday morning.
Panic about the disease has led to bare store shelves, rollercoaster stock markets and canceled events and classes.
New Jersey authorities have warned businesses not to engage in price gouging or deceptive practices during the health-related state of emergency.
“Let me be perfectly clear: if you try to take advantage of our residents during a public health emergency, we will hold you accountable,” Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said. “Retailers who try to make a quick buck by exploiting others will face civil and criminal consequences.”
New Jersey 101.5 did not know Tuesday whether Bharade had an attorney.
The corporate office of 7-Eleven said earlier in the day that the store is independently owned but that the company is "cooperating with local law enforcement" and would take "appropriate action."
On Thursday, March 12 at 7 p.m., New Jersey 101.5 is presenting a live broadcast confronting the worldwide novel coronavirus crisis, and how it affects New Jersey residents. Listen live on New Jersey 101.5 FM, the New Jersey 101.5 app or NJ1015.com. Experts will also be on-hand to chat with visitors to a Facebook Live video simulcast of the program at Facebook.com/nj1015.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.