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Owner of Consumer Products Testing Company Arrested for Fraud Scheme Involving Fabricated Test Results

OCI BadgeDepartment of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 9, 2019

Former Executives and Supervising Laboratory Technician Have Pleaded Guilty in Multi-Million Dollar Scheme

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Catherine A. Hermsen, Director of the United States Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) Office of Criminal Investigations (“OCI”), William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Kevin Gilleece, Acting Rockland County District Attorney, announced that GABRIEL LETIZIA, Jr., the owner and executive director of AMA Laboratories, Inc. (“AMA”), a consumer products testing company in New City, has been charged with  wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with his participation in a scheme to defraud AMA’s customers by reporting false laboratory test results.  Letizia was arrested this morning and was presented and arraigned this afternoon before Magistrate Judge Paul E. Davison in White Plains federal court.  The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Karas.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “AMA Laboratories, a consumer products testing company, tested consumer products for other companies that relied on AMA for genuine, accurate test results in order to safely bring their products to the consumer market. Unbeknownst to them, AMA’s owner, Gabriel Letizia, and others were engaged in a scheme to falsify those crucial test results by testing their products on far fewer panelists than they reported. Letizia and his co-defendants’ scheme not only cost the victim companies millions, they endangered the safety of thousands of consumers.”

Director, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Catherine A. Hermsen said: “Honest reporting of product testing is vital for ensuring the safety of drugs and cosmetics for U.S. consumers. When companies and individuals engage in criminal activity that puts the public health at risk, FDA will work to investigate and bring them to justice.”

Acting Rockland County District Attorney Kevin Gilleece said:  “As if enriching themselves through theft and fraud wasn't bad enough, the 30-year scheme perpetrated by these individuals may have had a deleterious impact on the health and wellness of countless victims. Letizia and his employees broke the law and violated the ethical duties owed to their customers and volunteers. The teamwork exhibited by all participating agencies throughout the joint investigation that began with the Rockland County District Attorney's Office was exemplary.”

According to the allegations contained in the Indictment that was unsealed today and statements made in court proceedings[1]:

AMA is a consumer products testing company in Rockland County, New York.  LETIZIA is AMA’s owner and executive director.  David Winne served as AMA’s technical director, Mayya Tatsene served as AMA’s clinical laboratory director, Patrycja Wojtowicz served as AMA’s associate director of clinical studies, and Kaitlyn Gold served as AMA’s supervising laboratory technician.  AMA tested the safety and efficacy of cosmetics, sunscreens and other products on specified numbers of volunteer panelists for consumer products companies.

From 1987 through April 2017, LETIZIA and others at AMA defrauded AMA’s customers of tens of millions of dollars 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 to the customers that AMA had tested the products on the number of panelists specified by the customers.  LETIZIA and AMA employees acting under his direction also made materially false and misleading statements about the results of the tests to AMA’s Customers.

LETIZIA, 69, of New City, New York, was charged in the Indictment with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud.  The charges each carry a maximum prison term of 20 years.

David Winne pled guilty on May 23, 2019, before United States Magistrate Judge Judith C. McCarthy, to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud.  The charges each carry a maximum prison term of 20 years.

Mayya Tatsene pled guilty on May 29, 2019, before United States Magistrate Judge Lisa Margaret Smith, to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud.  The charges each carry a maximum prison term of 20 years.

Patrycja Wojtowicz pled guilty on June 12, 2019, before United States Magistrate Judge Judith C. McCarthy, to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud.  The charges each carry a maximum prison term of 20 years.

Kaitlyn Gold pled guilty on June 24, 2019, before United States District Judge Cathy Seibel, to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud.  The charges each carry a maximum prison term of 20 years.

The maximum potential sentences in these cases are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencings of the defendants will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Berman praised the investigative work of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office.

This case is being prosecuted by the Office’s White Plains Division.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey C. Coffman, James McMahon, and Olga Zverovich are in charge of the prosecution.       
 
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[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment, and the description of the Indictment set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Attachment(s):
 Download u.s._v._gabriel_letizia_indictment.pdf
Topic(s):
Financial Fraud
Component(s):
USAO - New York, Southern
Press Release Number:
19-260