An Ohio corporation and its vice president pleaded guilty in federal court to the illegal sale of antimicrobial products. Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD), U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker for the Southern District of Ohio and Special Agent in Charge Jennifer Lynn of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division (EPA-CID) made the announcement.
Evan Morgan and DEM Technology LLC of Dayton, Ohio, pleaded guilty to selling an unregistered “fogger,” which they claimed, without proof, could sanitize an entire room. According to the plea, beginning in 1996, DEM produced the surface-sanitizing product, SaniGuard. It was only authorized for use as a surface spray. However, since SaniGuard’s initial EPA registration, DEM has sold the product not only as a “Dry Sanitizing Surface Spray” but also as a “Total Release Fogger.” According to its marketing materials, the fogger product allowed for the entire can’s contents to be released into a room, supposedly disinfecting all surfaces in the room. It also claimed the fogger could “sanitize a room within 10 to 15 minutes”; is “effective against H1N1, E-Coli, Staphylococcus, MRSA and Salmonella”; and has a “99.99% kill rate of fungus, bacteria…and viruses.” DEM has never established efficacy nor safety data associated with SaniGuard’s use as a fogger as required by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.
From 2004 to 2015, DEM received and acknowledged repeated correspondence from the EPA, directing the removal of language relating to fogging from the SaniGuard label. Additionally, on July 21, 2015, the EPA entered a consent order, which ordered DEM to pay a civil penalty based upon DEM’s sale of the fogger product. Nonetheless, DEM continued to produce and sell Total Release Fogger in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
“The defendants in this case made claims about the efficacy of their product with no supporting data, putting their customers at risk,” said Assistant Attorney General Kim. “Despite this danger and repeated notices by EPA, the defendants continued their unlawful conduct for years. Yesterday’s guilty pleas shows that the Department of Justice will not tolerate such violations of federal law.”
“In order to safeguard the environment, it is essential that the Environmental Protection Agency’s pesticide programs receive accurate and honest information from pesticide registrants and their employees,” said Special Agent in Charge Lynn. “This guilty plea sends a clear message that EPA and its law enforcement partners will continue to hold individuals and companies fully accountable for illegal conduct that jeopardizes the environment.”
This case was investigated by Special Agent Christopher Wilson of EPA-CID and Jon Scale of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office Bureau of Criminal Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Adam Cullman of ENRD’s Environmental Crimes Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio.