Attorney General Phil Weiser charges four with theft in Coronavirus disinfectant dupe investigation
Dec. 17, 2021 (DENVER)—The statewide grand jury indicted four individuals and a Wheat Ridge-based company, Microforce, LLC, on five counts of felony theft for deceptively marketing and selling a disinfecting service with a product they knew could not kill the Coronavirus and prevent surface recontamination during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the indictment, Microforce owners Chad Butler, Michael Satchell, and Jeffery Blake Stewart, and business consultant Bryant Delaney advertised that the product used in their disinfecting service could bond to surfaces and create a spike layer to kill the Coronavirus and other bacteria and viruses and could provide long-term disinfection for up to 90 days. The indictment alleges that Microforce almost exclusively used Monofoil X, which the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency has never approved as an effective disinfectant against any public health bacteria or viruses or having any long-term effectiveness against them. There are no products currently recognized by the EPA that may claim residual efficacy against viruses for 30-90 days.
The EPA’s Denver office sent an advisory letter to Microforce on June 5, 2020, after an agency official learned the company was misrepresenting its product and what it could do. The letter advised the company that the EPA only authorized their products as having long-term effectiveness for deodorizing and not disinfecting, and Microforce was not authorized to make claims of residual efficacy for disinfecting against bacteria or viruses.
All of the company owners and Delaney knew about the EPA advisory letter, yet they continued to misrepresent their service on the Microforce website, in promotional materials, and in contacts with several Colorado businesses and organizations, the court filing demonstrates. Furthermore, Microforce never informed their clients about the existence of the advisory letter and no one at the company attempted to correct the misrepresentations made to clients about the disinfecting service.
Microforce clients included Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Evergreen Park and Recreation District, Valor Christian High School, Elevations Credit Union, and Glenmoor Country Club. The total amount in theft from these clients from April 1 until Dec. 31, 2020, is approximately $252,440.
“Holding fraudsters accountable is a core mission of the Attorney General’s Office,” Attorney General Phil Weiser stated. “Those behind this scheme acted illegally even after the EPA told them they were deceiving Coloradans. That’s why we are taking action and working to hold them accountable.”
“False and misleading disinfectant claims concerning the Coronavirus and COVID-19 place people and communities at risk,” said Special Agent in Charge Lance Ehrig of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in Colorado. “As this case demonstrates, the EPA and its Colorado law enforcement partners are committed to the protection of public health.”
Each of the defendants is charged with varying degrees of theft. The case numbers for each defendant are: Chad Butler, 2021CR3334; Michael Satchell, 2021CR3332; Jeffery Blake Stewart, 2021CR3333; Bryant Delaney, 2021CR3331; and Microforce, 2021CR3335.
A grand jury indictment is merely a formal accusation that an individual committed a crime under Colorado laws. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.