Guilty Plea in Utah Pesticide Case

Bugman Pest and Lawn and a former employee pleaded guilty Tuesday to misapplying a pesticide that killed two Layton girls.

  • October 13, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The Bountiful-based company and ex-employee Coleman Nocks admitted to the misdemeanor in return for dropping two other pesticide charges that were unrelated to the fumigant treatment last year that poisoned 4-year-old Rebecca Toone and her 15-month-old sister, Rachel.

Sentencing has been set for Dec. 20 before federal Judge Dee Benson in Salt Lake City.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sam Alba signed off on the plea deal, which recommends that Bugman be shuttered for three years, idling its 10 employees, and pay a $3,000 fine. It calls for Nocks to serve six months behind bars and six months of home confinement followed by probation.

Benson can accept these recommendations or impose different punishments, including fines of up to $100,000 for Nocks and $500,000 for Bugman.

The Toones have filed a wrongful-death suit against Nocks and the company in 2nd District Court. With their case strengthened by the guilty pleas, attorneys for the parties say settlement negotiations are under way, including an undisclosed amount of restitution.

On Feb. 5, 2010, Nocks stuffed Fumitoxin pellets down field mice burrows outside the Toone home. In the following hours and days, fumes seeped into the house. The girls, their older brother, their older sister and their father ended up in the emergency room with severe flulike symptoms. The two youngest girls died within four days.

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