The owner of a New Jersey-based company has admitted to mislabeling hazardous chemicals from China brought into the United States and evading customs duties.

George Volpe of Roseland, NJ, Pleads Guilty

Federal authorities said last week, 60-year-old George Volpe of Roseland, Essex County, pleaded guilty in Newark federal court to wire fraud.

Volpe was the owner of Penta International Inc., a fragrance and chemical manufacturing company headquartered in Livingston and West Caldwell, NJ.

The company also agreed to a multi-million-dollar civil settlement to resolve allegations that Penta evaded customs duties and caused the mislabeling of chemicals imported into the United States from China.

According to officials, Volpe admitted that from 2016 through the summer of 2021, as the manager and owner of Penta, he participated "in a scheme to defraud, through which he caused mislabeled chemicals, including hazardous chemicals, to enter the United States from China."

The scheme resulted in an underpayment of U.S. Customs duties of $1.4 million.

As part of the civil settlement with the United States to resolve allegations under the False Claims Act, Penta has agreed to pay $3.1 million plus interest.

The civil claims alleged that representatives from Penta conspired with a Chinese vendor to mislabel chemicals entering the United States and to use falsified documents submitted to Penta’s customs brokers.

Officials did not indicate exactly what type of chemicals were brought into the country, however, those that were were falsely labeled as anise oil, which is a non-hazardous essential oil.

Sentencing is scheduled for August 13th.

The government was represented in the criminal case by Assistant U.S. Attorney Fatime Meka Cano of the Economic Crimes Unit in Newark and in the civil case by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Orlowski of the Health Care Fraud Unit in Newark.

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