FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
MONDAY, JANUARY 5, 2004
TDD (202) 514-1888
GLENCOE, ALABAMA MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO SELLING
COUNTERFEIT AND ADULTERATED PESTICIDES
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Thomas L. Sansonetti, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division; Alice H. Martin, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama; and David G. McLeod, EPA’s Resident Agent in Charge, today announced that in a plea agreement entered today before federal District Court Judge Inge Johnson, William Murphy pled guilty to all twenty-eight counts of counterfeiting and pesticide misbranding charges pending against him for having sold mislabeled and adulterated pesticides to municipalities in Alabama and Georgia that they used for mosquito and West Nile Virus control. Today’s plea comes on the day in which Mr. Murphy’s trial was to begin in federal district court in Birmingham.
The indictment charged Murphy with eleven counts of having violated federal trademark protection laws by trafficking in counterfeit goods through the sale of what he claimed to be registered brand name pesticides when he knew they were not. The indictment also charged Murphy with seventeen counts of having violated federal pesticide control laws by selling pesticides that bore labels falsely identifying their brand name, manufacturer, or active ingredients.
Following this guilty plea, Assistant Attorney General Thomas L. Sansonetti said, “The Department of Justice responds to every violation of environmental law, but acts with particular speed and vigor when the violations threaten public health.”
EPA’s David McLeod said, “The sale of counterfeit and adulterated pesticides to municipalities trying to protect their citizens from the danger of West Nile Virus is a fraud upon the public and undermines the EPA’s regulatory system intended to ensure the safety and efficacy of pesticides sold in this country.”
U.S. Attorney Martin said, “This office takes the prosecution of environmental crimes very seriously, particularly in cases like this, where the violations could impact public health.”
Until his arrest by EPA agents on May 15, 2003, William Murphy, operating under the name Sierra Chemical of Anniston, Alabama, sold pesticides and other products to municipalities and private businesses in a number of southern and mid-western states. Any product that bears a brand name registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office may not be manufactured and sold by anyone without the authorization of the trademark holder. Under federal pesticide control laws, no pesticide may be sold in the United States that is not approved and registered with the EPA and an authorized state agency to assure its safety and efficacy. All registered pesticides must bear labels indicating, among other things, their manufacturer, their content, and directions for their use. An individual who violates federal trademark protection laws is subject to a fine of up to $2,000,000 and imprisonment of up to ten years. An individual who violates federal pesticide control laws is subject to a fine of up to $100,000 per count and imprisonment of up to one year per count. Today Judge Johnson scheduled Mr. Murphy’s sentencing hearing for March 8, 2004 at 3:00 P.M.
This case was investigated cooperatively by Special Agents from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division and Office of Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industry.
Assistant United States Attorney Robert O. Posey, Department of Justice Environmental Crimes Section, Senior Trial Attorney Jeremy F. Korzenik, and EPA Region IV, Senior Counsel Richard Glaze prosecuted the case.