Gabriel Letizia, the owner and Executive Director of AMA Laboratories, a consumer products testing company based in Rockland County, NY, that he founded in 1982, pled guilty to defrauding customers by reporting laboratory test results for panelist testing that was not fully performed. Former AMA employees David Winne, Technical Director; Mayya Tatsene, Clinical Laboratory Director; Patrycja Wojtowicz, Associate Director of Clinical Studies; and Kaitlyn Gold, supervising laboratory technician, pled guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in 2019 for their respective roles in the scheme.
U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement, “As he has now admitted, Gabriel Letizia schemed for decades to defraud customers of his laboratory, and caused sunscreens and other consumer products to be sold and marketed to consumers on the basis of false laboratory testing reports. Letizia’s guilty plea underscores that my Office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute fraud and endangerment in the consumer products testing industry.”
From 1987 through April 2017, Letizia and his co-conspirators defrauded AMA’s customers of more than $46 million by testing products on materially lower numbers of panelists than the numbers specified and paid for by AMA’s customers. Letizia, and AMA employees acting under his direction, sent the customers fraudulent reports, which falsely represented that AMA had tested the products on the number of panelists specified by the customers, causing the introduction of misbranded products into interstate commerce.
Letizia pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison; and two counts of causing a misbranded drug to be introduced into interstate commerce, each of which carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Karas will provide sentencing on September 14, 2021. The US FDA, which participated in the investigation, has not commented publicly on the implications for improperly tested sunscreens and other products.
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