ENR (202) 514-2008 TDD (202) 514-1888


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Justice Department today charged a Chicago man with illegally purchasing 485 gallons of the toxic pesticide methyl parathion in Mississippi and transporting it to an extermination service that applied it to about one thousand homes and businesses in Chicago. Methyl parathion is so toxic that it is restricted under federal law for use only as an agricultural pesticide in uninhabited open fields. As indicated on its labeling, humans exposed to methyl parathion may lapse into coma or suffer from headaches, nausea, vomiting, cramps, drooling, sweating, and muscle spasms. "Those who illegally misuse this toxic pesticide to earn a few dollars are threatening people's health and even their lives," said Lois Schiffer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "We will continue to crack down on those who commit this dangerous crime, which has victimized hundreds of people and cost taxpayers millions of dollars." "Distributing poison in the quantities found in this case endangering the health of hundreds must be prosecuted," said United States Attorney Brad Pigott. "This prosecution affirms once again our commitment to a liveable environment." According to the criminal information filed today in U.S. District Court in Jackson, Mississippi, James E. Allen knowingly conspired with other individuals between 1993 and early 1997, to illegally obtain and supply methyl parathion to Ruben Brown so he could use it inside residences and businesses to kill insects and other household pests. Brown pled guilty on July 24, in Chicago to federal charges of spraying the toxic pesticide in the homes and businesses of his pest control clientele. He is scheduled to be sentenced in Chicago on December 9.

"State and federal cooperation in this matter has brought about the action being taken today and I commend all those involved in the investigation," said John H. Hankinson, Jr., EPA Regional Administrator in Atlanta. According to today's criminal information, in August 1993, Allen applied for and received a license from the state of Mississippi allowing him to purchase restricted use pesticides to be used only on outdoor agricultural crops. Allen obtained the license for a fee at Brown's request. After receiving the license, Allen then purchased methyl parathion and supplied it to Brown so he could use it for his extermination business. Allen even lent his pesticide license to Brown so he could purchase methyl parathion himself. The information also alleged that in the summer of 1995, Allen, claiming to be a commercial exterminator, sprayed a Braxton, Mississippi residence with methyl parathion. If convicted, Allen faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison and a $200,000 fine. Earlier this year, two Mississippi men were convicted on federal charges of spraying methyl parathion in homes and businesses along the Mississippi Gulf coast. Because of the illegal use of the pesticide in those cases hundreds of people had to be evacuated from their homes and the federal government has spent more than $60 million relocating evacuees and cleaning up the contamination. One of the men was sentenced to six and a half years in prison and the other to five and a half years in prison. Today's case was investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency's Criminal Investigations Division and the FBI. An information represents charges brought by the federal government and is not itself evidence. The government has the burden of proving the charges at trial beyond a reasonable doubt. ### 97-490