Pesticide Used Illegally At Heritage Healthcare In Fort Oglethorpe, Federal Indictment Charges

Thursday, September 12, 2013 - by Judy Frank
An Alabama pest control services company and its owner face more than 50 federal indictments for unlawful use of pesticides in Georgia nursing homes, including Fort Oglethorpe Nursing Center.

The nursing home, which also goes by the name of Heritage Healthcare according to a woman answering the phone, referred questions concerning the case to its corporate headquarters.

The indictment – filed in the Macon district of U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia – charges Steven A. Murray, 54, of Pelham, Ala., and his company, Bio-Tech Management Inc., with felonies ranging from unlawful use of a pesticide to conspiracy to mail fraud.

The 51 counts listed include 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. The case involving the Fort Oglethorpe nursing home is just one of 51 listed in an indictment which alleges that from October 2005 to June 2009, Steven Murray and Bio-Tech repeatedly misapplied the registered pesticide Termidor SC in nursing homes in the state of Georgia and falsified documents to conceal the unlawful use.  The indictment further alleges that Murray and Bio-Tech sent invoices through the U.S. Mail to their nursing home clients to solicit payment for the unlawful pesticide applications.

“Beginning no later than December 2006,” according to the indictment. “conspirator #1 routinely used Termidor, a registered pesticide, in a manner inconsistent with its labeling by applying it indoors and more than twice per year, including misuse on the following dates at the listed nursing homes, each of which constitutes a separate overt act of the conspiracy:
 
8/26/08 – Gordon Healthcare – Calhoun, GA
1/9/09 – Arrowhead Health Center – Jonesboro, GA
1/28/09 – Ft. Oglethorpe Nursing Center – Fort Oglethorpe, GA
1/29/09 – Winthrop Manor – Rome, GA
2/12/09 – Life Care Center Gwinnett – Lawrenceville, GA”
 
“At all times relevant to this indictment,” according to the indictment, “Termidor has been a lawfully registered pesticide with a manufacturer’s label approved by the United States . . . EPA. The active ingredient in Termidor is Fipronil, which constitutes 9.1 percent of the pesticide.
 
“According to the directions contained on the Termidor label,’ it continues,  “this pesticide was not permitted to be used inside a structure to kill or control ants, cockroaches, earwigs, silverfish, spiders or other listed perimeter pests except as a foam application into wall voids. The Termidor label further prohibited more than two applications per year to kill these listed perimeter pests.”
 
The United States Department of Justice press release announcing the indictments reads as follows:
 
PEST CONTROL COMPANY AND ITS OWNER CHARGED WITH UNLAWFUL APPLICATION OF PESTICIDES AND FALSIFICATION
 
WASHINGTON – A pest control services company and its owner have been charged today in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia with conspiracy, unlawful use of pesticides, false statements, falsification of records and mail fraud, announced Robert G. Dreher, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and Michael J. Moore, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. 
 
Steven A. Murray, 54, of Pelham, Ala., and his company, Bio-Tech Management Inc., were charged in a felony indictment 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.
 
The indictment alleges that from October 2005 to June 2009, Steven Murray and Bio-Tech repeatedly misapplied the registered pesticide Termidor SC in nursing homes in the state of Georgia and falsified documents to conceal the unlawful use.  The indictment further alleges that Murray and Bio-Tech sent invoices through the U.S. Mail to their nursing home clients to solicit payment 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.  The indictment alleges that, 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.  The indictment further alleges that after the Georgia Department of Agriculture made inquiries regarding Bio-Tech’s misuse of Termidor and other pesticides, Murray directed several of his Bio-Tech employees to alter company service reports with the intent to obstruct an investigation.         
 
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations require that all pesticides be registered, properly labeled, and applied as specified by manufacturer’s labeling to protect public health and the environment.
 
A criminal indictment is not a finding of guilt.  An individual or company charged by criminal indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. 
 
The falsifying records and mail fraud charge carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and $250,000 fine per count.  The false statements charges each carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. 
       
These cases are being investigated by Special Agents of the EPA’s Criminal Investigations Division in Atlanta and prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Richard J. Powers and Adam C. Cullman of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, Environmental Crimes Section.





Get Emailed Headlines From Chattanoogan.com; Like Us On Facebook, Twitter For Instant News

We send out headlines each day of the latest Chattanooga news.  Our news headlines have links that take you to the stories with a click. We also send out special emails if there is a highly significant local news story breaking so you will be aware of it quickly. To be added to the email headline list, just email us at news@chattanoogan.com In addition, like us ... (click for more)

Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ALLEN, THADDEUS JOEL  1605 DUKE LANE CHATTANOOGA, 37421  Age at Arrest: 24 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County DRIVING ON REVOKED, SUSPENDED OR CANCELLED LICENSE SURRENDER OF LICENSE OR REGISTRATION UPON REVOCATI --- BIBBS, DEMETRIUS DEMOND  2112 BAILEY AVENUE CHATTANOOGA, 37404  ... (click for more)

Tired Of Property Tax Increases

Why is it every time the city of Chattanooga and Hamilton County want to raise money they have to punish the homeowners?  I'm sick of the few paying for the many.   If you want to be fair, I would not complain on a 1/2 cent local sales tax raise since everyone would have to contribute their fair share.  Or how about a wheel tax which would get everyone who owns ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Third Son Takes His Life

Steven Ferrin, described by his parents as “a handsome, bubbly and witty young man,” was the victim of what is called “a sectarian attack” in recent weeks near his home in north Belfast (Ireland) and last weekend was found dead after the 31-year-old father of a 7-year-old girl had taken his own life. Compounding the tragedy is the horrific news that Steven’s other two brothers and ... (click for more)

Boyd-Buchanan Rallies To Sweep Notre Dame

Home court advantage plays a vital role in many sports, but especially in high school volleyball. The Boyd-Buchanan Buccaneers went to Notre Dame on August 22 for a critical district match and they headed back home after losing a close match by a 3-1 margin against the Lady Irish. The shoe was on the other foot Monday night as they two teams squared off at Boyd-Buchanan’s ... (click for more)

Moving From Florida Debacle, Jones Says: 'I'm Responsible'

Tennessee football coach Butch Jones, under heavy criticism after the Vols’ disappointing last-play loss at Florida, said Monday the resulting team's sense of urgency “starts with me. … I’m responsible.” Jones made the remarks at a weekly press conference in Knoxville, Tennessee, as the Vols begin preparations for Saturday’s home game against UMass. Referring to numerous ... (click for more)