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TENNESSEE MAN SENTENCED FOR PESTICIDE MISUSE

Release Date: 01/08/99
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FOR RELEASE: FRIDAY, JANUARY 8, 1999
TENNESSEE MAN SENTENCED FOR PESTICIDE MISUSE

Robert E. Kelly, Jr., owner of Kelly's Spraying Service, of Memphis, Tenn., was sentenced on December 30, 1998 to serve 20 months in prison and was also ordered to pay $250,000 in restitution to EPA by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee in Memphis, Tenn. Kelly was convicted of charges that he purchased at least 280 gallons of the pesticide methyl parathion in Mississippi under the false pretense that it would be used for agricultural purposes. He also was convicted of illegally applying the pesticide in homes in the Memphis area. Methyl parathion, also known as "cotton poison," is a highly toxic substance, which is only approved for outdoor use in uninhabited agricultural fields where sunlight rapidly reduces its toxicity. When applied indoors it can remain toxic for up to two years, and can cause headache, nausea, convulsions, coma and death. Evidence introduced at the trial indicated that Kelly did not warn his customers of the dangerous nature of the pesticides he was applying, even when his customers asked. Hundreds of Kelly's customers were exposed to high levels of methyl parathion, which caused many of them to become ill. The case was investigated by EPA Criminal Investigation Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and was prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice.

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