Pelham man sentenced for unlawful application of pesticides in Georgia

Published 10:58 am Friday, August 29, 2014

From Staff Reports

MACON, Ga.- A Pelham pest control company and its owner were sentenced in federal court on Aug. 28 after pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy, unlawful use of pesticides, false statements and mail fraud in connection to the unlawful application of pesticides in Georgia nursing homes, the 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 announced in an Aug. 28 news release.

District Judge Marc T. Treadwell sentenced Steven A. Murray, 54, of Pelham to two years in prison, one year of supervised release and fined him $7,500. Murray’s company, Bio-Tech Management Inc., was given three years of probation and fined $50,000.

Murray and Bio-Tech Management were charged with one count of conspiracy, 10 counts of making false statements, 20 counts of falsifying records, 10 counts of mail fraud and 10 counts of unlawful use of a pesticide in Sept. 2013.

According to the felony indictment, from Oct. 2005 to June 2009, Murray and Bio-Tech misapplied and covered up the unlawful use of pesticide Termidor SC in Georgia nursing homes. Additionally, they sent payment invoices through U.S. mail to the nursing home clients for the unlawful pesticide applications.

“According to the indictment, Steve Murray and Bio-Tech provided monthly pest control services to nursing homes in Georgia by spraying pesticides in and around their clients’ facilities.. At the direction of Murray, Bio-Tech employees routinely applied the pesticide Termidor indoors more than twice a year, contrary to the manufacturer’s label instructions…Murray directed several of his Bio-Tech employees to alter company service reports with the intent to obstruct an investigation.” the U.S. Department of Justice stated in a Sept. 11, 2013, news release.

Murray and Bio-Tech pleaded guilty to the charges of conspiracy, unlawful use of pesticides, false statements and mail fraud in federal court in Macon, Ga., on March 14, 2014.

“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 the state and federal investigators,” Hirsch stated in an Aug. 28 news release. “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,” Moore said. “This sentence is a just punishment for them and a stern warning to others who might be similarly tempted in the future.”

The case against Murray and Bio-Tech was prosecuted by Richard J. Powers and Adam Cullman of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department’ Environment and Natural Resources Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office Middle District of Georgia. U.S. EPA-CID Region 4 in Atlanta investigated the case.