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For immediate release -- Friday, April 26, 2002.
Contact Steve Moline or Steve Reno - 515-281-5351

Miller Files Lawsuits Alleging Phony Pesticides

Suits allege New York and Florida companies violated Consumer Fraud Act in telephone sales of farm chemicals.

DES MOINES.The Attorney General's Farm Division has filed two lawsuits alleging that companies operating out of New York and Florida are engaged in deceptive and fraudulent practices in the telemarketing sales of farm chemical herbicides.

"We allege that the defendants called Iowa farmers and made misleading and false claims that their products would kill various weeds for several years," Miller said. The suit alleges that herbicides with similar ingredients do not have effective longevity of several years.

"They claimed their products would exceed the performance of similar products on the market, but they failed to disclose that their products were highly diluted compared to other reputable products," he said. "A caller for the New York company also falsely represented that the company was located in Springfield IL. We allege they violated Iowa's Consumer Fraud Act."

Defendants named in the suit are:

  • Central State Supply, Ltd., 656 North Wellwood Ave., Suite 305, Lindenhurst, NY 11757, just east of New York City. Central State also has done business as CSS Farm Supply. Defendant Michael Spano is the chairman or CEO of Central State. Central State sold products called "Turf King" and "Triple Threat" herbicides.
  • Heartland Telemarketing, Inc., 2542 Coral Way W., Daytona Beach Shores, FL 32118. Defendant Kenny Ganga controls Heartland, the petition said. Heartland markets "C-Lex." Miller said the lawsuit against Central State Supply was filed in Pocahontas County District Court in Pocahontas, and the suit against Heartland Telemarketing was filed in Jackson County District Court in Maquoketa. Farmers in those counties, as well as other counties, had filed complaints with the Attorney General's Farm Division about the companies' practices.

The suits were filed Wednesday, and in each case a district court judge issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting any further marketing of pesticides by the defendants in Iowa while the matters are pending. The suits ask the courts to order permanent injunctions, restitution to victims, and civil penalties up to $40,000 per violation of the Consumer Fraud Act.

The suits allege that if farmers received any chemicals they typically were only diluted versions of 2,4-D herbicide and worth far less than what the farmers had to pay, typically about $99 for a gallon.

"Phony pesticide schemes are a perennial problem. Farmers and other rural Iowans need to be on the lookout for questionable offers," Miller said.

"The hallmarks of questionable solicitations include unexpected out-of-state calls, claims that a 'new' product is just as good as name-brand products, claims of extraordinary longevity, unbelievably low prices, high pressure to buy right away, and demand for immediate payment by credit card or cashier's check," he said.

"Our advice is to deal with local dealers and dealers you know are reputable and reliable," he 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 have complaints or information about the defendants or others.

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Link to Farm Division "Farm Advisory" on Phony Pesticides and other Telephone Scams.