Former Colgate researcher sentenced to 21 months for stealing toothpaste formula

This case left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.

A former researcher for Colgate-Palmolive Co. CL,
was sentenced to 21 months in prison for stealing secret toothpaste formulas and sending them to a company he founded abroad.

Muamer Reci, 58, of Haskell, NJ, had worked at a Colgate lab for nearly 20 years, where he had access to proprietary recipes for the company’s famous toothpastes and oral hygiene products, prosecutors said.

In 2012, Reci and two others founded a consumer hygiene and cleaning products company called Reci & Sons, and three years later a subsidiary called Reci Enterprises in Macedonia, according to court documents. Prosecutors said Reci never told Colgate about his company.

The following year, prosecutors said, Colgate officials discovered a document from his work email titled “Project Eurodent,” which contained plans for Reci Enterprises to develop a toothpaste called Eurodent for sale abroad. The plan valued the company at $2 million and targeted construction and commissioning of manufacturing facilities by the end of 2017.

Reci later sent secret recipes for Colgate toothpastes – including an unreleased toothpaste for dry mouth and a children’s toothpaste – to be used to launch his company, prosecutors say.

“Print this out [sic] Formulas and file them,” prosecutors quoted Reci as saying in an email.

Colgate officials said the formulas are worth tens of millions of dollars in research and development costs.

Reci was arrested in early 2019 and later that year pleaded guilty to wire fraud. In addition to his prison sentence, Reci was ordered to pay $188,000 in damages.

Reci’s lawyer, Ronald Ricci, said his client “admitted wrongdoing and accepted full responsibility in the case”.

“He intends to make full amends,” Ricci said.

Colgate-Palmolive officials did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment. Former Colgate researcher sentenced to 21 months for stealing toothpaste formula

Brian Lowry

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