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Terminix Manager Jose Rivera Pleads Guilty to Illegally Using Methyl Bromide

CRUZ BAY — The former branch manager of Terminix International USVI, LLC pleaded guilty on Monday to four counts of illegally applying fumigants containing methyl bromide in multiple residential locations in the U.S. Virgin Islands, including the condominium resort complex in St. John where a family of four fell seriously ill in 2015, after the unit below them was fumigated.

Jose Rivera, 58, was indicted and charged under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert said.

According to the plea agreement, the Terminix manager Rivera was certified as a pesticide applicator by the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources and received pesticide applicator training from the University of the Virgin Islands. Based on his training, he knew that he was required to read the pesticide label and follow all instructions when using any pesticide.

In short, Rivera was instructed that federal law requires applicators to follow the pesticide use instructions on the label. The label on methyl bromide states that its use is restricted to the location and manner on the label, and the label does not authorize application of methyl bromide in a residential unit. Rivera applied methyl bromide, a registered restricted-use pesticide, in a manner inconsistent with the use instructions on the label at the residences named in the counts of conviction.

“This prosecution demonstrates the importance of complying with environmental laws and regulations,” Shappert said. “Tragically, the defendant’s failure to do what was required of him resulted in catastrophic injuries to the victims and exposed many others to similar harm. Here in the Virgin Islands, the United States Attorney’s Office is committed to the enforcement of environmental laws. We will take all necessary steps to hold those who violate these laws criminally accountable and to protect residents and visitors of the Virgin Islands.”

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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