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Bergen County 7-Eleven Owner Arrested for Selling Homemade Hand Sanitizer that Caused Burns to Teens

Bergen County

Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella announced today two enforcement matters relating to the alleged sale of a dangerous “spray sanitizer” at a 7-Eleven in River Vale.

Officials say Manisha Bharade 47, of Wood-Ridge, was charged with Endangering The Welfare Of A Child and Deceptive Business Practices.

According to officials, at the same time, Attorney General Grewal announced that the Division of Consumer Affairs (DCA) opened an investigation into the store’s practices regarding the sale and promotion of health and sanitation products offered by the store since the emergence of the coronavirus outbreak.

Officials say on Monday at approximately 8:13 p.m., the River Vale Police Department responded to the 7-Eleven located at 207 Rivervale Road after receiving information from social media that four juvenile boys (three 10 year-olds and one 11 year- old) had been burned after using sanitizer purchased at the 7-Eleven.

The ensuing investigation revealed that Bharade had mixed commercially available foaming sanitizer, which was not meant for resale, with water and packaged it in aftermarket bottles to be sold at the 7-Eleven on Rivervale Road.

An apparent chemical reaction from the mixture caused the burns. Fourteen bottles in total were sold at the 7- 11.

Police say five bottles were turned over to the River Vale Police Department and nine bottles are unaccounted for at this time.

Further analysis will be performed to determine the exact make-up of the chemical mixture.

Earlier today, the Division sent a letter to the store’s owners demanding that they preserve all records relating to the preparation and sale of the “spray sanitizer” seized by law enforcement, as well as the sale and advertisement of any health-related or sanitation- related products that the store began marketing or offering for sale after December 31, 2019, the first day that the government in Wuhan, China confirmed illnesses now known as COVID-19.

The letter noted the Division’s commitment to protecting consumers from fraudulent, deceptive, or unconscionable business practices, especially during declared states of emergency.

“Let me be perfectly clear: if you try to take advantage of our residents during a public health emergency, we will hold you accountable,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Retailers who try to make a quick buck by exploiting others will face civil and criminal consequences.”

Prosecutor Musella stated that, “Bergen County HazMat, the Bergen County Department of Health, Bergen County Office of Emergency Management, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and DCA have all been notified and are working with law enforcement to monitor the situation and ensure the safety of the public, which is our paramount concern.”