NJ man admits profiting $2.7M off unregistered pesticide to fight COVID-19
CAMDEN — A Burlington County man admitted Thursday he illegally sold unregistered pesticides as a COVID-19 defense to government and municipal entities including the U.S. Marshals Service and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Paul Andrecola pleaded guilty in federal court in Camden to one count each of wire fraud, selling an unregistered pesticide and presenting false claims.
According to a criminal complaint, the 63-year-old Maple Shade man made and sold pesticides that weren’t registered with the EPA as required, and weren’t on the EPA’s list of products deemed to be effective disinfectants against COVID-19.
“Paul Andrecola’s scheme profited on the fears of the American people during the height of concerns about transmission of Covid-19,” U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger said in a statement.
Andrecola and others put another company’s EPA registration numbers on his products to hide the fact that they weren't registered, according to the complaint.
Federal authorities alleged Andrecola made 150 sales of the unregistered pesticides between March 2020 and May 2021 and made more than $2.7 million. Among the additional entities that bought the products were a Delaware police department, a Virginia fire department and a medical clinic in Georgia.
Andrecola is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 11. He also must forfeit $2.7 million in proceeds from the scheme.
Charles Nugent Jr., an attorney representing Andrecola, said his client has accepted responsibility and doesn't deny selling an unregistered product.
“The product he sold was safe and effective for the purpose it was sold,” Nugent added. “There's no evidence otherwise. No one was harmed by it.”