Farm Press Release
For immediate release -- Thursday, Jan. 2, 1997.
Contact Bob Brammer -- 515-281-6699.
Miller Sues Four New York Companies Alleging Fraud in Sale of Farm Chemicals
DES MOINES. Attorney General Tom Miller filed four separate lawsuits Thursday morning alleging that companies based in Long Island, New York, engaged in deceptive and fraudulent practices in the telemarketing sales of farm chemicals.
"Iowa farmers received telephone solicitations from the defendants," Miller said. "The calls typically included claims that the chemical products were new, that they worked well on multiflora rose, that they would keep weeds down up to five years with one application, that the products were not toxic to humans or wildlife, and that payments would be refunded if the products failed to work."
"We allege that these and many similar claims were untrue and deceptive," Miller said.
"If farmers received any chemicals, they typically were only diluted versions of 2,4-D herbicide -- worth far less than what the farmers had to pay."
Payments made by Iowans for the defendants' products ranged from $79.95 to $584, he said.
The lawsuits were filed at district court in Jackson, Floyd, Black Hawk and Dallas counties, where alleged victims reside.
Defendants named in the lawsuits include:
- Environmental Supply Inc. and Environmental Septic Inc., of Bohemia, NY. Defendants sold a product called "C-Lex" or "Misty." This suit was filed in Jackson County.
- Farmway Chemical, Inc., of Farmingdale, NY, and John Liberatos and Joseph Buoniello, Jr., vice president and president of Farmway, respectively. The Farmway suit was filed in Floyd County.
- Farm-Rite Farm Products, Inc., of Ronkonkoma, NY, and Glen Ponzini and Harry Wider, CEO and president of Farm-Rite, respectively. Farm-Rite sold a product it called "TK-10." The Farm-rite suit was filed in Black Hawk County.
- Stockade, Inc., of Copiage, NY, and Michael Spano, CEO and sole shareholder of Stockade. Stockade sold a product it called "Triple Threat." The Stockade suit was filed in Dallas County.
Sales persons for the four companies also were named as defendants. Miller said the Farm Division of his office had not determined if the companies -- which all are located close to one another on Long Island east of New York City -- are related.
The lawsuits asked the courts to issue immediate restraining orders to halt the defendants' sales of their products in Iowa. The suits also seek permanent injunctions, restitution for victims, and civil penalties up to $40,000 per violation. The suits allege the defendants violated the Iowa Consumer Fraud Act.
"Phony pesticide schemes are a perennial problem," Miller said. "Farmers need to be on guard."
He said hallmarks of questionable solicitations include: unexpected calls from out of state; claims that a "new" product is "just as good as" such-and-such well-known brand; unbelievably low prices; high pressure to buy right away; and demand for immediate payment by credit card or cashier's check.
"Our advice is to deal with local dealers and dealers you know are reputable and reliable," Miller said. "Be extremely careful of unsolicited calls that offer so-called fantastic bargains. Remember the old maxim that if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably isn't true."
Miller encouraged farmers to contact the Farm Division at 515-281-5351 if they had complaints or information about the defendants.