Criminal charges have been filed against officials of two Los Angeles area companies that allegedly imported and distributed more than 70,000 tubes of Chinese toothpaste containing a poisonous substance.

Vernon Sales and Selective Imports allegedly sold toothpaste containing diethylene glycol, a chemical used in antifreeze and as a solvent.

Prosecutors in Los Angeles say Selective Imports, based in Vernon, distributed the toothpaste to distributors throughout the country between December 2005 and May 2007. Vernon Sales, also based in Vernon, is accused of buying and reselling some of the tubes to Los Angeles stores.

Vernon Sales President Kamyab Toofer and Vice President Pejman Mossay are each charged with 14 criminal counts for allegedly receiving, selling and delivering an adulterated drug.

Selective Imports President Frahad Nazarian and Vice President Yones Ghermezi are charged with two criminal counts each for receiving, selling and delivering products containing the chemical known as DEG.

Each count carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Ghermezi says he has not seen the charges but is shocked by the filing. All the adulterated toothpaste was voluntarily pulled from shelves and from the company's inventory eight months ago and destroyed by the federal Food and Drug Administration last month.