ST. STEPHEN, SC (WCSC) - Two St. Stephen men face charges in connection with an investigation into pesticide theft and a death.
Kenneth M. Beauford and Damon Lamonte Kelly were arrested on Feb. 27 by agents from the South Carolina Department of Pesticide Regulation, which is the state's lead enforcement agency for the sale, use and distribution of pesticides, according to South Carolina Attorney General's Office spokesman J. Mark Powell.
Investigators say that on or about June 3, Kelly stole a restricted use herbicide known by the brand name Gramoxone.
Its active ingredient is an extremely poisonous agent called paraquat.
Beauford is accused of placing the weed killer in plastic soft drink bottles labeled "Pepsi," and then selling the bottles to two people in St. Stephen.
One buyer mistook the herbicide for a soda, drank some of it and died on June 15, Powell said.
Beauford and Kelly are also accused of applying Gramoxone without a valid certified pesticide applicator's license.
Beauford is charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter, one count of receiving stolen goods, $2,000 or less, and three counts of Pesticide Control Act violations.
Kelly is charged with one count of petty larceny, $2,000 or less; and three counts of Pesticide Control Act violations.
The case was investigated by agents from the South Carolina Department of Pesticide Regulation.
If convicted, the involuntary manslaughter charge is punishable by up to five years in prison. The counts of receiving stolen goods and petty larceny are punishable by up to 30 days per count.
Each count of Pesticide Control Act violations is punishable with up to 30 days in prison if convicted.