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Terrorism 'Crisis-Kit' Marketer Closes

A New York businessman agreed to shut down his company amid charges that his prerecorded message campaign to sell terrorism “crisis kits” was deceptive, the New York Attorney General's office said yesterday.

Joseph Bella, who owned Radi-Aid Inc. and Laboratories of BioFend in Erie County, NY, also agreed to pay $2,500 in fines and a ban from marketing any product or service claimed to protect consumers from terrorist attacks and radiation dangers. His prerecorded messages pitched kits containing potassium iodide pills, an over-the-counter medication believed helpful in preventing thyroid damage caused by exposure to radioactive contaminants, the attorney general's office said.

According to the charges, the messages told consumers that BioFend had information that terrorists planned to attack western New York with “dirty” radioactive bombs, and that BioFend had been tasked by the government to distribute kits to the public. The messages came Oct. 18, a few weeks after five men residing in the area of Buffalo, NY, were arrested on charges of supporting terrorists in a case that received national attention, the attorney general's office said.

State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer called the alleged scheme “shameful” and said Bella was trying to capitalize on public fears of terrorist attacks.

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