FORT PIERCE — The owner and an employee of the company that fumigated the Palm City home in which 10-year-old Peyton McCaughey was poisoned each were sentenced Thursday to one year in federal prison.
Grenale Williams, 53, the owner of Sunland Pest Control Services Inc., the West Palm Beach subcontractor that performed the fumigation, and Canarie Deon Curry, 40, who was pest technician with Sunland, each pleaded guilty March 10 to one count of using chemicals improperly.
U.S. District Judge Jose Martinez said that one year was the maximum sentence for the charge, a misdemeanor, but indicated they could have faced more severe penalties.
Martinez set a hearing on restitution for Aug. 8 for claims any victims may file in the next 30 days.
“The government agreeing (to charge only the one misdemeanor count) is the only reason you’re getting one year,” Martinez said.
He said other potential charges had been filed and “had you gone to trial and the government proved the underlying facts, you’d be facing a lot more than a year.”
Both men asked to be allowed to surrender on June 1, but Martinez ordered them taken into custody immediately.
Martinez also gave the corporation, Sunland Pest Control, which is now defunct, the maximum sentence of a five-year probation.
The sentences for the two men and the corporation are followed by a period of supervised release matching the length of the sentence.
Martinez also agreed to a request by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jodi Mazer that if the men return to working with pesticides during their supervised release they must complete enhanced education and training beyond the required state certification.
In a statement to the court, Williams expressed his “deepest apologies to the family” and said he met with Peyton’s father during a deposition for the civil lawsuit Carl and Lori Ann McCaughey filed in September against Terminix International Co. and Sunland Pest Control.
Williams said he wanted to apologize earlier, but was advised by his attorney not to say anything while the civil suit is pending.
Sunland failed to have two people trained in the use of restricted use pesticides; failed to properly aerate the fumigated space, including opening the garage door; and failed to conduct a required clearance of air with an approved and properly calibrated detection device in the three-bedroom home in the 1400 block of Naomi Street in Palm City where the McCaugheys lived, Mazer said.
Though the investigation by Florida’s Department of Agriculture into the fumigation at the McCaughey home determined that Sunland Pest Control used the restricted-use pesticide Zythor instead of Vikane, which it had been directed by Terminix to use, Mazer said the outcome would have been the same regardless of which chemical was used.
Court documents show that Sunland Pest Control’s access to Vikane had been suspended by Dow Chemical because of debts owed.
Peyton is undergoing intense physical therapy to regain motor skills he lost after exposure to the pesticides.