DPR WINS $689,000 FOR ILLEGAL FLEA PRODUCTS
SACRAMENTO – The Department of Pesticide Regulation has won legal orders and settlements totaling more than $689,000 for the sale of unregistered, misbranded pet flea treatment products throughout the state.
Two cases remain open, with potential penalties of more than $1 million still to be decided.
DPR brought civil charges against a dozen individuals and companies in 2005, following investigations that involved the sales of "Advantage" and "Frontline" brand flea treatment products from overseas, where they were available at lower wholesale cost. The foreign market products were not registered for sale in California; some were repackaged to disguise their origin, and pesticide fees had not been paid on product sales, as required by state law.
The largest settlement to date involved Kenneth A. Boston and Boston’s Pet Supply Inc. of Santa Maria. The firm settled with DPR for $500,000 and Boston individually settled for $20,000.
Meanwhile, two cases are pending. Pet Food Express Ltd of San Leandro, one of the largest pet specialty product retailers in the nation, has disputed a proposed DPR penalty of $700,000. A DPR hearing on the case has been delayed by a legal dispute over documents. A Sacramento Superior Court ruling is pending.
In the second case, Sean Gerson and Vaccination Services Inc. of Temecula lost a judgment to DPR and were ordered to pay $379,000. Gerson has appealed, claiming he cannot be held personally liable. The case is pending in Orange County Superior Court. Earlier this month, DPR issued a second proposed penalty of $65,000 against Gerson and his company, on charges that they continued to sell illegal flea treatment products.
Other judgments and settlements include:
- Lanny S. George, Monique Delgado, and Maak For Pets of Yorba Linda settled for $30,000.
- Western Pet Wholesalers, Inc. of San Marcos defaulted on a $70,000 penalty. DPR is seeking payment through Superior Court.
- Red Cart Market, doing business as Pet Club and PETGUYS.com of Emeryville, settled for $28,000.
- Todd and Theresa Trocki, former owners of Richlin Farm Pet N Fish of Solano Beach, settled for $15,000. This may be reduced to $5,000, based on new evidence discovered by DPR.
- Jeff Finn of Marbella refused to pay a $10,000 judgment. DPR will seek payment in Superior Court.
- Allison Beck of San Pedro settled for $5,500.
- Scott Samuelson and Pet Solutions of Temecula have defaulted on a $10,000 penalty. DPR will seek payment through Superior Court.
- Jeffrey D. Sallus and JDS Enterprises of Moor Park settled for $5,000.
- Stephen Sallus and SJS & Associates of Palos Verdes Peninsula settled for $1,000.
- Charles E. "Chuck" Gerson and General Distributing and Sales Company of Morro Bay settled for $5,000.
Despite warnings from DPR, the defendants sold foreign products with unlawful stickers over their foreign labels, or they sold products in counterfeit packaging, said DPR investigators. In the process, the sellers avoided both annual product registration fees and mill fees on sales that ran into millions of dollars.
DPR has been investigating similar cases for several years. Since 2003, DPR’s Product Compliance Branch, working with limited resources, has found more than 180 violations for flea products.
DPR has alerted retailers statewide about the illegal products, and advised them on how to spot foreign or counterfeit packaging.
For consumer information on identifying illegal flea products, and what to do with them, see U.S. EPA’s Counterfeit Pesticide Products for Dogs and Cats (opens in new window).
DPR is not currently aware of any confirmed incidents where pets or their owners were harmed by the illegal products. DPR urges consumers to closely follow legal label directions, which must be approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and DPR.
One of six departments and boards within Cal/EPA, DPR regulates the use of pesticides to protect human health and the environment.