(STL.News) – The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland has charged Marek Majtan, age 35, of Frederick, Maryland with committing a scheme to defraud to sell unregistered and misbranded pesticides. Majtan has been charged via criminal complaint with the following federal charges: mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341; and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), in violation of 7 U.S.C. § 136j(a)(1)(A), 136j(a)(1)(E), and 136l(b)(1)(B). An initial appearance is set for September 11, 2020 at 2:15 p.m.
The criminal complaint was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Jennifer Lynn of the Environmental Protection Agency-Criminal Investigation Division; and Postal Inspector in Charge Peter R. Rendina of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service – Washington Division.
“It is particularly egregious to seize on the ongoing pandemic to take advantage of the public,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur. “My office will continue to investigate and prosecute those who commit COVID-19 related frauds, especially those who endanger the public through their actions.”
“This case shows that consumers need to be cautious of products that make unsubstantiated claims of controlling viruses,” said Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Special Agent in Charge Jennifer Lynn of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in Maryland. “EPA and our law enforcement partners continue to work to stop the sale of these illegal products. Consumers can help protect themselves by visiting epa.gov/coronavirus for a list of approved products.”
“Protecting American consumers from fraudsters taking advantage of a public health emergency is a top priority for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. We continue to work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our partners at the Environmental Protection Agency- Criminal Investigations Division as part of the COVID-19 Anti-Fraud Task Force to bring those seeking to exploit people during this pandemic to justice, said Inspector in Charge Peter R. Rendina of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.”
According to the federal criminal complaint, Majtan is alleged to have committed multiple violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, Rodenticide Act (“FIFRA”) by fraudulently selling unregistered and misbranded pesticides. On April 8, 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Majtan filed a trade name application with the Maryland State Department of Assessment and Taxation for “Capitol Cleaning Solutions” (CCS). It is further alleged that he purchased pesticides of unknown origin from a person he met on Facebook Marketplace and whose last name he did not know. He then repackaged the pesticides at his home, and created his own handmade label and application directions, using EPA registration information from a discontinued product. He then advertised on the internet that the product was “Compliant and Approved” by EPA and the CDC. He falsely claimed that the product “Kills 99.9% Bacterias & Viruses” and “Kills Covid 19 & Seasonal Flu,” in an effort to entice people to buy it.
Since May 19, 2020, it is alleged that Majtan sold disinfectant products on eBay without authorization from the EPA. In addition to selling CCS products on eBay, CCS appeared to market and sell products on a website, http://ccs-box.com, created by Majtan. He fraudulently claimed that the products were EPA-registered pesticides under FIFRA, that the products were registered with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and that these products were on FIFRA’s List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2. Neither CCS nor Majtan has obtained a company number from EPA as required prior to registering a pesticide. Neither CCS nor Majtan submitted an application for registering a pesticide to the EPA. CCS does not produce any pesticides registered by the EPA pursuant to FIFRA. The CCS website stated that 1,231 CCS product bottles had been sold, and the company has served 323 customers. Majtan admitted to Agents that he falsified those figures to entice buyers.
On May 20, 2020 EPA-CID and USPIS conducted an undercover purchase of two pesticides sold by CCS on eBay, that were delivered to FedEx. Based on the undercover purchase, federal law enforcement agents executed a search warrant at this particular FedEx and seized five additional packages sent by CCS with the undercover purchase intended for customers in Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Illinois.
FIFRA requires that pesticides must display on labels the following information clearly and prominently: name, brand, and trademark under which the product is sold; name and address of the producer or registrant; product registration number and producing establishment’s number. Additionally, pesticides must display labels containing a warning or caution statement necessary that, if complied with, is adequate to protect human health and the environment. Majtan failed to include any such labels or to display any such required information.
If convicted, Majtan faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine for mail fraud, and up to 1 year in federal prison and a $25,000 fine for a violation of FIFRA. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
A criminal complaint is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by criminal complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.