Alabama Pest Control Company and Its Owner Sentenced for Unlawful Application of Pesticides at Georgia Nursing Homes
Steven A. Murray, 54, of Pelham, Alabama, and his company, Bio-Tech Management Inc., were sentenced today in federal court in Macon, Georgia, after pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy, unlawful use of pesticides, false statements and mail fraud in connection with the misapplication of pesticides in Georgia nursing homes, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Sam Hirsch of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and U.S. Attorney Michael J. Moore for the Middle District of Georgia.
Murray was sentenced by District Judge Marc T. Treadwell to two years in prison, one year of supervised release and to pay a fine of $7,500. Bio-Tech was sentenced to three years of probation and to pay a fine of $50,000.
From October 2005 to June 2009, Murray and Bio-Tech provided monthly pest control services to hundreds of nursing homes in several southern states including Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Alabama by spraying pesticides in and around their clients’ facilities. Bio-Tech employees routinely applied the pesticide Termidor indoors, contrary to the manufacturer’s label instructions, and then created false service reports to conceal that illegal use. After the Georgia Department of Agriculture made inquiries regarding Bio-Tech’s illegal use of Termidor and other pesticides, Murray directed several of his Bio-Tech employees to alter company service reports with the intent to obstruct the investigation.
“Today’s sentence is fair and just punishment for Murray and his company’s abuse of pesticides in nursing homes, their fraud against their clients, and their concealment of crimes from state and federal investigators,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Hirsch. “Companies must abide by the laws that protect the public from the harmful effects of improperly applied pesticides.”
“This case is particularly disturbing because of the defendants’ intentional disregard for the wellbeing of a vulnerable group of victims whose safety was entirely in the defendants’ hands,” said U.S. Attorney Moore. “This sentence is a just punishment for them and a stern warning to others who might be similarly tempted in the future.”
“Today’s sentence highlights the importance of using pesticides in a safe and legal manner, especially around vulnerable populations,” said Maureen O’Mara, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Georgia. “The defendant exposed patients to harmful pesticides which jeopardizing their health and safety and tried to cover it up by submitting false reports. EPA and its partner agencies are committed to holding these kinds of dangerous actions accountable to the law.”
The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Richard J. Powers and Adam Cullman of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office Middle District of Georgia. U.S. EPA-CID Region 4 in Atlanta conducted the investigation.