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MASSACHUSETTS MAN AND COMPANY CHARGED WITH REFRIGERANT SALES FRAUD

Release Date: 11/04/99
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FOR RELEASE: THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 1999

MASSACHUSETTS MAN AND COMPANY CHARGED
WITH REFRIGERANT SALES FRAUD

George Haras of Burlington, Mass., also known as George Haralambos, and the company he controlled, U.S. Environmental Technologies, which did business in Burlington as United Chemical Co., were both charged with five counts of mail fraud on Oct. 25 in U.S. District Court in Boston. The charges allege that the defendants illegally sold the refrigerant R-409A to more than 60 customers who thought it was the refrigerant R-12, which is a highly controlled chloroflourocarbon refrigerant used in air conditioning systems of motor vehicles manufactured before 1994. R-12 is strictly controlled under the Clean Air Act because its release can cause significant damage to the earth’s ozone layer. R-409A is a less expensive and readily available refrigerant that can cause significant damage to air conditioner and charging systems that are designed to use R-12. By substituting R-409A for R-12, the defendants allegedly defrauded their customers out of approximately $293,355. If convicted, Haras faces a maximum sentence of up to five years imprisonment and/or a $250,000 fine on each count. U.S. Environmental Technologies faces a fine of up to $500,000 on each count. The case was investigated by EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division and the FBI and is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts.

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