SALT LAKE CITY — A trial date has been set for a Bountiful pest-control company facing a number of federal charges as attorneys for the company called newer charges a "strategic move" on the part of the government.
Attorneys for both Bugman Pest and Lawn Inc. and co-owner Raymond Wilson Jr., 21, entered not guilty pleas on behalf of their clients before a July 26-28 trial date was set on five misdemeanor counts of unlawful use of a registered pesticide.
The indictment was filed in April in U.S. District Court and alleges Wilson applied Fumitoxin pellets at homes in Salt Lake City, Park City and Sandy in August 2009 in a manner inconsistent with its labeling — specifically that the rat poison was applied into a burrow system within 15 feet of an occupied building.
This indictment was the second filed against the company that — with former employee Coleman Nocks — was already hit with a three-count indictment in February also alleging unlawful use of a registered pesticide. Those charges stemmed from the deaths of Rebecca Kay Toone, 4, and Rachel Ana Toone, 15 months, in Layton, and two other instances where investigators say Fumitoxin pellets were applied around homes inconsistent with product labeling.
Nocks allegedly spread the poison too close to the girls' home to remove voles, a species of small rodents. They died within days of each other in February 2010.
Both Nocks and Raymond Wilson Sr., the other owner of the company, pleaded not guilty and a trial is scheduled for October.
Dennis James, an attorney for the company, said the second indictment against Wilson Jr. was "obviously a strategic move on the government's part to bolster their case." He said if it was a larger action involving the use of Fumitoxin, there would investigations against other pest control companies.
He said there is "no question" that the outcome of Wilson Jr.'s case will be indicative of the second case involving Nocks and the man's father. He said no decision had been made as to potentially resolving the case before it gets to trial.
"We consider all possibilities," James said.Comment on this story
Nocks also was initially charged in 2nd District Court with two counts of negligent homicide, a class A misdemeanor. Those charges was dropped when the federal indictment was filed.
Negligent homicide has a similar penalty to the federal charges, which carry one year in prison and a fine of $100,000 per count. The company faces a fine of $200,000 per count, which based on eight counts could total $1.6 million, if convicted.
The parents of the two Layton girls, Nathan and Brenda Toone, have also filed a wrongful death lawsuit in 2nd District Court against Bugman, the Wilsons, Nocks and five others associated with the company.