Michigan Man Sentenced 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 Ronald Verrochio, Postal Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Miami Division, announced that Alexander Lorin Davis, 40, of Pinckney, Michigan, was sentenced yesterday in federal District Court in West Palm Beach on 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 to the public of environmental test kits that 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, who had previously accepted guilty pleas in this matter from Alexander Davis and his spouse, Dawn Marie Davis, 46, also of Pinckney, sentenced Alexander Davis to 15 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Judge Ryskamp also ordered Alexander Davis to pay $50,264.53 in restitution to 154 victims of the fraudulent scheme. Dawn Davis, who previously pled guilty to a charge of misprision of a felony for failing to alert appropriate authorities to the criminal conduct, was sentenced by Judge Ryskamp to two years of probation and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $9,596.09 after a hearing held on April 25, 2013.
According to court records, including Joint Factual Statements submitted to the Court and statements made during the sentencing hearing, from May 2011 through November 2012, Alexander Davis owned and operated Davis Test Kits (DTK). DTK was in the business of marketing test kits for use in homes and businesses to detect the presence of various environmental pollutants and hazards, such as molds, asbestos, radon, and lead. To promote business, the DTK website displayed the forged and counterfeited seal of the NSF. As part of the scheme, Alexander Davis also made materially false representations and promises on the 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 fact, however, 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. To perpetuate the fraud, the defendants would mail customers whose test kits had not been tested results from other laboratory tests. Some, customers were induced to pay additional amounts, in some instances exceeding thousands of dollars, based on false assertions by the defendants that additional testing was necessary.
During the same time, Dawn Davis was aware that her husband was 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 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, Dawn Davis concealed the fact 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 Office of Inspector General 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.