Manisha Bharade who is the owner of a 7-Eleven in New Jersey was looking to make a few extra bucks. Her idea was to cash in on the coronavirus outbreak by selling a homemade sanitizing spray that burned four children, authorities said.
Manisha Bharade, 47, was issued a summons on charges of endangering the welfare of children and deceptive business practices for mixing foaming sanitizer not intended for resale with water and packaging the mixture in bottles sold in her River Vale store, state and local authorities announced Tuesday.
“Let me be perfectly clear: If you try to take advantage of our residents during a public health emergency, we will hold you accountable,” New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said. “Retailers who try to make a quick buck by exploiting others will face civil and criminal consequences.”
An apparent chemical reaction from Bharade’s concoction left four young boys — three 10-year-olds and an 11-year-old — burned on Monday, according to Grewal and Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella. Police responded to the 7-Eleven after photos of the bogus products were posted to social media along with a boy who had burns to his arm and leg, River Vale police said.
One of the 10-year-old victims is expected to make a full recovery after being released from a hospital, while the other three boys were less severely burned, WABC reports.
In all, 14 bottles of the mixture were sold to customers — five of which have been turned over to River Vale police. Additional tests will be done to determine the exact makeup of the homemade sanitizer, authorities said.
Police don’t believe Bharade tried to intentionally hurt anyone by hawking the dangerous solution, which she sold for $2.50 each, the Daily Voice reports.
“She wasn’t trying to make a lot of money and obviously didn’t mean to hurt anybody,” a law enforcement official told the outlet. “But she’s no chemist.”
Investigators, meanwhile, don’t believe the spray sanitizer is being sold at other locations throughout the state.
“While further investigation is underway, our first priority is to make the public aware that they should not use this item if they purchased it at the River Vale 7-Eleven,” River Vale police Lt. John DeVoe said Monday. “As far as we know, this issue is limited to the River Vale store at this time.”
The state’s Division of Consumer Affairs has also launched an investigation into the 7-Eleven’s sale and promotion of health and sanitation products since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, authorities said.