A Suffolk County tree service has been fined $20,000 by the state for failing to keep required documentation for pesticide applications for almost three years.
The amount of the fine paid by Sterling Tree and Lawn Care was double the usual $10,000 fine because it had been cited for a similar violation in 2009, the state Department of Environmental Conservation said Friday.
The latest case -- covering 2010, 2011 and this year -- came to light after an unidentified Suffolk homeowner complained of being billed for services that were no longer wanted, the state agency said.
DEC regulations require commercial entities to maintain records of pesticide use for three years, the agency said.
"The company's refusal to provide documentation about their pesticide applications over a three-year time frame not only . . . [violates] state environmental regulations but calls into question the company's business principles," DEC regional director Peter A. Scully said in a statement.
"Customers also have the right to know what pesticides are being applied to their properties, which is why accurate record-keeping is so important," Scully said.
Sterling is owned by Sterling Churgin of East Islip, where he has corporate offices, records show. Telephone and email messages to the company were not returned Friday.
The customer who complained was not identified by the DEC. The agency said the person contracted with Sterling to apply pesticides to ornamental fruit trees on a residential property in 2010, but it continued to bill the customer after he notified the company he no longer wanted the service. He then contacted the DEC.
People with similar concerns can call the Pesticides Compliance Section at 518-402-8727.