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Con Man Falsely Claimed That Ebola Cleanup Firm Was Working With The Army

“We’re working directly with the U.S. government and the Army Corps of Engineers and the Army,” said Sal Pane, the subject of a recent BuzzFeed News investigation. The Department of Defense has said it has no record of any such work.

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The con artist hired by New York City to disinfect Ebola-contaminated spaces has also claimed another important customer: the U.S. military. Yet this, like so many of Sal Pane's assertions about his and Bio-Recovery Corp.'s credentials and experience, is false.

A Department of Defense spokeswoman said there is no record of any contracts awarded to Bio-Recovery, nor to several other companies associated with Pane.

Separately, another medical-waste-disposal company associated with Pane and Bio-Recovery appears to have plagiarized promotional material wholesale from the websites of competing companies.

In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Pane stood by his military claims, but refused to provide details, and in a subsequent phone call he hung up before answering questions about the apparent plagiarism on his website. He did not respond to follow-up questions sent via email.

An ongoing BuzzFeed News investigation has found that Pane, who was hired by NYC this fall, has a long and colorful history of telling falsehoods, is a mortgage scammer and convicted felon, and showed up with his crew to the Harlem apartment of Ebola patient Dr. Craig Spencer on Oct. 24 in a truck bearing permit numbers that belonged to a dead man.

The investigation found that although Pane claimed to have decades of experience at Bio-Recovery, those who worked at the company for years said they had never met him. The man who founded Bio-Recovery in 1998 died in 2013, leaving the company in his will to his sister. The sister told BuzzFeed News that Pane duped her into selling the company in late 2013.

Pane made the claim about working with the Army on a local Florida show called American Medicine Today. The show is presented by a medical group called the Bonati Spine Institute, and often focuses on the group's spinal surgery procedures. But it also has some focus on current events, and the episode Pane appeared on is called "Ebola from the perspective of health care workers."

"We're working directly with the U.S. government and the Army Corps of Engineers and the Army," Pane said in the October interview, "to set up decontamination processes and make sure that all our men and women that are coming home get clean, disinfected, and properly medically surveillanced."

He did not provide any further details during the interview. But asked about the claim in an interview with Buzzfeed News last month, Pane said that he had in his possession emails with an official based in Fort Lee, Virginia. "I have emails from the U.S. Army sitting in front of me," he said. "I'm looking at it right now."

He declined to provide the emails or name the official he had been emailing with, saying only that the emails would vindicate his claims. "Then, if you write another story," he said, "that would be good."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Defense said her agency had no record of any contracts with Bio-Recovery, or with several other companies associated with Pane.

Another spokeswoman for the Kenner Army Health Clinic in Fort Lee, Tereasa Wade, told BuzzFeed News that an official did get in touch with Pane — but only to get a price quote, as part of general background research. "It is not uncommon for staff to conduct research on potential vendors," Wade said in a statement, "however, there has been no attempt by Kenner Army Health Clinic to enter into any contractual agreement with Bio-Recovery."

Bio-Recovery is associated with a number of other companies, including one called MailMySharps.com. An analysis of that company's website shows that promotional material, including the homepage, about page, and FAQ appear to have been copied directly from a Texas-based company, Sharps Compliance. Sharps Compliance, which sells medical waste equipment, has been in the business for two decades, and has no connection to MailMySharps.com.

MailMySharps.com's "how it works" page is also taken directly from another decades-old medical waste company, GRP Associates.

An image on the company's website purporting to be a photograph of MailMySharp.com's office building is actually of a real estate building in Baltimore — with MailySharp.com's logo photoshopped onto it. After BuzzFeed News asked about the image, the word "PLACEHOLDER" was added to the photoshop.

MailMySharps.com's customer support contact number is that of Bio-Recovery Corporation and an internet registration database shows the company registered by the same contact, address, organization, and email as Bio-Recovery and just under a hundred other domains, which link back to Bio-Recovery's homepage.

The address listed on MailMySharps.com's contact page is the same as that of Bio-Recovery's.

A Sharps Compliance spokesman said that, after Buzzfeed News brought the plagiarism issues to the company's attention, they now "have a lawyer on the content issue."

Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Andrew Kaczynski at andrew.kaczynski@buzzfeed.com.

Alex Campbell is an investigative reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. His secure PGP fingerprint is 0712 96AD 2FED CEF9 AFA7 9280 0397 E646 0A39 2C8A

Contact Alex Campbell at alex.campbell@buzzfeed.com.

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