Convictions handed down in testing fraud case

Four people have been convicted of in a U.S. District Court for falsifying test data submitted to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and for destroying documents in connection with a federal grand jury investigation into the matter.

According the CPSC, Joyce Serventi, the president of a New Jersey company contracted by Tampa, FL-based Youth Research, Inc. was convicted in August of conspiracy to falsify data in connection with the child resistance testing of cigarette and multi-purpose lighters. Serventi was sentenced to two years of probation by the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, and ordered to pay a $3000 fine.

Serventi’s conviction follows that of Youth Research’s president, Karen Forcade, who was sentenced in September 2010 to eight months in prison followed by eight months of home confinement, and a $10,000 fine, for her role in the conspiracy. Also convicted in September 2010 for conspiring to falsify data was Stephanie Van Treuran, a contractor for Youth Research, who received two years probation, three months of home detention, and a $3000 fine.

Nancy Buhrmann, another contractor for Youth Research, was sentenced in February 2011 to 21 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release, for destroying paper and electronic documents in connection with the federal grand jury investigation into the fraudulent testing. Buhrmann has filed an appeal in connection with her conviction.

The conspiracy to falsify test data was uncovered by a CPSC health scientist while examining routine test reports submitted by Youth Research to the CPSC. The scientist determined that the same children were used in repeated tests, with changes to birth dates, genders and the names of schools attended by the children. The discovery resulted in further investigation by CPSC officials, and was ultimately referred to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Consumer Protection Litigation in January 2007.