By Morgan Linn
An Indiana motel manager is expected to plead guilty to violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) for using an unregistered pesticide in guests’ rooms.
Dipen Patel of Dyer, Indiana, imported a pesticide called DOOM upon returning from a trip to India, according to the charge. He carried it through security in his luggage and failed to declare it to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, according to the plea agreement.
The guilty plea is scheduled for today in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Cherry.
Patel also failed to register DOOM with the Environmental Protection Agency. Registration would include an “evaluation of scientific data and [an] assessment of risks and benefits of a product’s use,” according to the EPA.
From February 2014 to January 2015, Patel and a maintenance worker used DOOM to kill bed bugs at a Knights Inn Motel in Michigan City, according to the plea agreement. They mixed DOOM with water and applied it to guest rooms,. Patel also told a front desk manager at a Super 8 Motel in Howe, Indiana, to use DOOM whenever guests complained about pests.
DOOM is used in India for outdoor pest control. Its main ingredient, dichlorvos, is a chemical nerve agent, according to the plea agreement, which said Patel didn’t read the label before using it.
Ryan Holmes, a public information officer for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Hammond, Indiana, said he was unable to comment on whether anyone suffered health problems as a result of the DOOM applications.
The U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry says dichlorvos can cause nausea, anxiety, restlessness, teary eyes and heavy sweating. Other symptoms include loss of bladder control, muscle tremors and labored breathing.
“Depending on exposure levels, it can also cause coma, inability to breathe and death,” the agency said.
Dichlorvos was detected in February 2015, when the Office of the Indiana State Chemist and the local health department collected samples from unoccupied rooms at both motels, the plea agreement said.
A total of 56 rooms tested positive for dichlorvos and were condemned by the local health authority. The rooms were decontaminated, which included “disposal of mattresses, carpeting and decontamination of surfaces,” the plea agreement said.
The FIFRA crime carries a potential maximum sentence of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. The judge will set the sentencing date later.