Fraudulent safety sharps sales

Two San Diego County men have been charged in a scheme to defraud medical product investors out of more than $4 million to produce an innovative type of syringe.

Matthew Mazur and Carlos Manjarrez were jailed Thursday on 61 counts of grand theft, fraudulent sales of a security, elder abuse and tax violations.

The two men, who pleaded not guilty Friday in San Diego Superior Court, are accused of making misrepresentations, omissions and false statements about U.S. Medical Instruments Inc. national and overseas sales of “SafeSnap” syringes, District Attorney’s Office spokesman Tanya Sierra said.

Potential investors were shown a prototype of the syringe, featuring a needle that would fold up safely into a container for disposal in regular waste rather than as hazardous medical waste. Prosecutors allege the syringes were never made in significant quantity and that most of the investors’ money went to Mazur and Manjarrez, not the company.

“Bilking investors, some of whom are senior citizens, out of millions of dollars of their hard-earned savings is reprehensible,” District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said in a statement. “Our Economic Crimes Division is working with partner law enforcement agencies to hold these defendants accountable for their crimes.”

The FBI, the state Franchise Tax Board and Oceanside police worked on the case with prosecutors.

Charges against the two men were filed and arrest warrants were issued on Wednesday, Sierra said. They face up to 40 years in prison if convicted of all charges.

Judge David Szumowski set bail for each defendant at $2 million. Defence attorneys had argued for a lower bail, noting that each of the men has ties to the community and is not likely to fail to appear at any upcoming court hearings. Neither of the men has a criminal record.

Earll Pott, who represented Mazur at the arraignment, said he believed that case had been “dramatically overcharged.”

When it comes to making a fast buck at the expense of safety for sharps users and others, these two must be down there at the bottom of the pit. They deserve all they got, and more.

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