Michigan Couple Pleads Guilty in Fraudulent Test Kit Scheme
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Allison C. Lerner, Inspector General, National Science Foundation (NSF), and Antonio J. Gomez, Acting Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Miami Division, announced today that Alexander Lorin Davis, 40, and Dawn Marie Davis, 46, both of Pinckney, Michigan, pled guilty today in federal District Court in West Palm Beach to charges related to falsely making and forging the seal of the National Science Foundation (NSF), an agency of the United States, and mail fraud in connection with the marketing by internet of environmental test kits to the public which were not in fact analyzed by qualified laboratories as asserted in advertisements and literature accompanying the kits, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 506(a)(1), 1341, 4, and (2).
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Ryskamp accepted the guilty pleas, and set sentencing for Alexander Davis for June 27, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. in West Palm Beach. The defendant faces a term of possible imprisonment of up to five years on the count of misusing the logo of the NSF and up to 20 years for the charges related to mail fraud. Additionally, he faces a term of supervised release of up to five years. Dawn Davis, who pled guilty to a charge of misprision of a felony for failing to alert appropriate authorities to the criminal conduct, was immediately sentenced in the matter by Judge Ryskamp to a 2 year term of probation and will be subject to a restitution order after a hearing to be held on April 25, 2013.
According to court records and Joint Factual Statements submitted to the Court, during the period from May 2011 through November 2012, Alexander Davis was the owner and operator of Davis Test Kits (DTK). DTK was in the business of marketing test kits to be used in homes or businesses for the purpose of detecting the presence of various environmental pollutants and substances, such as molds, asbestos, radon, and lead. During this time, the DTK website displayed the forged and counterfeited seal of the NSF, without the permission or knowledge of the NSF. As part of the scheme, Alexander Davis also made materially false representations and promises on the DTK website, claiming that upon return of the test kit by the customer DTK would cause the kit to be submitted for testing by individuals from an established, accredited laboratory.
In this way, Davis knowingly caused hundreds of the DTK kits to be delivered to and returned from customers via the U. S. Postal Service . In fact, DTK did not operate or employ testing laboratories certified as represented on the website and many test kits returned to DTK were never submitted for testing by an accredited laboratory. In order to provide a test report to customers whose mold test kits were not in fact tested, defendant would use a template from other laboratory tests as if they were unique to the new customer’s sample. The purpose of the false representations was to obtain money from customers whose samples were not tested by the accredited laboratory and/or to induce the customers to engage DTK to provide additional services for further payment.
During the same time period, Dawn Davis, was aware that her husband was employing and using the seal of the NSF on the internet website of DTK and knew the company was marketing the test kits. She was also aware that DTK in fact did not submit all the customer test kits received through the mail to accredited laboratories for analysis as DTK represented on its website and in written materials provided to the customers. Despite her knowledge of the mail fraud being perpetrated by her husband, Dawn Davis concealed and failed to make known as soon as possible to an appropriate official that DTK was selling its testing services without any affiliation or connection to NSF, and was failing to provide the purchased testing services to some customers.
The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency established by Congress in 1950 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 National Science Foundation and the U. S. Postal Inspection Service. 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.