Pesticide Co. VP Pleads Guilty to FIFRA Violations, Faces Prison

The vice president of Missouri pesticide company HPI Products Inc. pleaded guilty this week in federal court in Kansas City, Mo., for violating a federal pesticides law designed to provide proper regulatory oversight and prevent improper storage of pesticides, the Justice Department announced.

Hans Nielsen pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Sarah Hays for the Western District of Missouri to two criminal misdemeanor counts for violating sections of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, also known as FIFRA. According to the charges, Nielsen did not notify the state or federal regulatory agencies of the illegal storage of pesticides and failed to maintain records of the storage. For more than 20 years, HPI Products stored pesticides and its wastes in various warehouses in St. Joseph, Mo., without notifying state and federal regulatory agencies, DOJ said.

"The failure to properly notify authorities of the pesticide storage prevented the oversight and safeguards needed to monitor stored pesticides," said John C. Cruden, Acting Assistant Attorney General for DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. "This failure could have led to a potentially dangerous situation for first responders, who, in the event of an emergency, need proper information to assesses the hazards and determine the proper actions to contain leaks or fires."

Nielsen faces up to 12 months in prison and a fine of up to the greater of $100,000 or twice the amount of either the gain realized by the defendant or the loss caused by the defendant. DOJ notes the plea is related to felony guilty pleas already entered by HPI Products and its president, William Garvey, who pleaded guilty to a felony violation of the Clean Water Act for disposing pesticide waste down the sewers of the city of St. Joseph. The company pleaded guilty to the same violation of the Clean Water Act as well as a felony violation of the hazardous waste storage laws. Garvey and the company are scheduled to be sentenced on Sept.1, 2009, by U.S. District Court Judge Howard F. Sachs.

The investigation was conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division. The case is being prosecuted by the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section with assistance from the Western District of Missouri U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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