The owner of a consumer products testing company in Rockland County will spend years in prison for his role in a scheme to defraud customers out of millions of dollars by reporting fake lab reports over more than two decades.
Rockland County resident Gabriel Letizia, Jr., age 72, the owner of AMA Laboratories in New City, admitted conspiracy to commit wire fraud and two counts of misbranding products in May 2021 for bilking his customers out of more than $46 million.
On Wednesday, May 18, US Attorney Damian Williams announced that Letizia, a New City resident, has been sentenced to 60 months in prison and must pay $1,440,238 in restitution.
In addition to his prison term, Letizia was also ordered to forfeit $46.2 million.
"AMA purported to test the safety and efficacy of cosmetics, sunscreens, and other products on specified numbers of volunteer panelists for consumer products companies," prosecutors said. "Clients of AMA used the test results to support their claims that their products were safe, effective, hypoallergenic, or provided a certain Sun Protection Factor (SPF), including after exposure to water.
AMA clients that manufactured sunscreens then used the test results to comply with FDA regulations requiring sunscreen manufacturers to have their products tested and to maintain the test results for possible review by the FDA
Prosecutors said that from 1987 through 2017, Letizia and others at AMA defrauded customers out of tens of millions of dollars by testing products on a lower number of panelists than specified by the company, for which they were being paid.
According to AMA employees, under Letizia’s direction, they sent the customers fraudulent reports, which falsely represented to the customers that AMA had tested the products on the number of panelists specified by customers.
AMA personnel rarely tested products on the number of panelists requested by AMA’s clients, Williams said. Instead, the lab-tested products on a far lower number of panelists, typically 20 or less, rather than the 50 for which the clients had paid.
Letizia and employees also made false and misleading statements about the results of tests to customers, prosecutors said, including the suppression of adverse reactions to products and deviating from testing protocols.
"For three decades, Gabriel Letizia defrauded AMA’s customers and jeopardized the safety of millions of consumers, all in the name of greed," Williams said. "Thanks to our partners at FDA-OIC, the FBI, and the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office, he has now been sentenced to prison.”
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.