According to reports from the New York Post, 47-year-old Manisha Bharade was issued a summons on charges of endangering the welfare of children and deceptive business practices for mixing foaming sanitizer–that’s not intended for resale–with water. She then packaged 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 caused by Bharade’s concoction left four young boys (three 10-year-olds and an 11-year-old) burned on Monday. 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, according to River Vale police. 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.
A total of 14 bottles of the mixture were sold to customers, five of which have since been turned over to 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 selling the solution, which she sold for $2.50 each. “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.”
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. 7-Eleven is cooperating with police in an ongoing investigation, reps told The Post in a statement.
“The safety and well-being of 7-Eleven customers is of utmost importance and our hearts are with this young man at this time,” the statement reads. “We are reviewing this matter internally and will take appropriate action.”