By Greg Grisolano
NEOSHO, Mo. — The owner of a Neosho company has pleaded guilty in federal court to illegally distributing pesticides.
Tom Smith, owner of Greenleaf LLC at 13960 Palm Road in rural Neosho, also agreed to pay a $200,000 fine during a hearing Wednesday in Springfield.
Smith’s company, according to a release from the U.S. attorney’s office, was found to have distributed more than 2 million pounds of pesticides and rodenticides after removing or defacing the labeling on the packages.
The company’s actions violated the federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, which regulates the sale and distribution of those products.
Attempts to reach a spokesman for Greenleaf were unsuccessful Wednesday, and operations are no longer taking place at the Neosho site.
Greenleaf had been obtaining damaged or returned bags of the products from a Wal-Mart distribution center in Arkansas, according to a release from the office of John F. Wood, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri in Springfield.
“The large amount of pesticides involved in this criminal conduct created a significant public health hazard and a threat to the environment,” Wood said in the statement.
The release from Wood’s office also stated that Wal-Mart paid more than $2.5 million for an environmental cleanup of the Greenleaf site.
Don Ledford, a spokesman for Wood’s office, said the company was found to be dumping the damaged or returned insecticides into large bins, and selling them primarily to area farmers.
“(The pesticides) weren’t labeled, so you don’t know what you’re getting or how to use it,” he said.
The $200,000 fine is the maximum fine that can be assessed for violating the federal law. Greenleaf has until a sentencing hearing on June 23, 2009, to pay the full balance.
By Greg Grisolano
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