COCONUT CREEK MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO MISUSE OF NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION SEAL
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and Allison C. Lerner, Inspector General, National Science Foundation, announced that Edward F. Elliot, 67 of Coconut Creek, Florida, pled guilty yesterday afternoon in Federal District Court in West Palm Beach to charges of falsely making and forging the seal of the National Science Foundation, an agency of the United States, and knowingly using and affixing such fraudulently made and forged seals and facsimiles upon instruments, documents, and papers, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 506(a)(1) and (2).
U.S. District Court Judge Daniel T. K. Hurley accepted the guilty plea, and set sentencing in the matter for April 12, 2012, in West Palm Beach, at 4:00 pm. The defendant faces a maximum statutory term of imprisonment of up to five years.
According to court records and statements made during the hearing, from as early as December 2010, a Deerfield Beach-based company, Pet Corner International, LLC (PCI), at which the defendant served as Operations Manager under a series of false names, including Ted Godfrey and Ted Lambert, marketed distributorships to individuals interested in selling a line of pet supplements for dogs offered by PCI. On PCI’s website, and in various promotional manuals and brochures, the company asserted that its products were produced in a laboratory audited and inspected by the National Science Foundation. This fraudulent claim was buttressed by the use of the seal or logo of the Foundation on the site and in the promotional paperwork sent to potential and actual distributors. In court, the government indicated that at least 62 contracts were signed by distributors between December 2010 and June 2011, the period during which the false claims were publicized by PCI.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Elliot used two fraudulent identities and was the individual principally responsible for preparing the promotional material referencing the Foundation.
The National Science Foundation, an independent federal agency established by Congress in 1950, is variously mandated to promote the progress of science, and to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare. The agency meets this mission by funding approximately 20% of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities with an annual budget of approximately $6.9 billion. The National Science Foundation neither tests consumer products, nor audits and inspects private laboratories.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the Special Agents of the National Science Foundation whose investigative efforts resulted in the charges in this case. The criminal case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Watts-FitzGerald.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.