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DA WINS CIVIL JUDGMENT AGAINST
RIVERSIDE, CALIFORNIA, July 5, 2007: The Riverside County District Attorney's Office has won a default judgment against Robert Wayne Glenn and Pamela Bigham, DBA P&R Growers for growing, planting, selling and transporting quarantined Phoenix Roebeleniis (Pygmy Date Palms). The judgment includes a permanent injunction and $107,760 in civil penalties.
In court documents filed in Riverside Superior Court, P&R Growers, Robert Wayne Glenn, and Pamela Bigham were permanently enjoined from engaging in the propagation, possession, planting, processing, selling and/or taking of any other action with regards to Phoenix Roebeleniis (Pygmy Date Palms) in the quarantined areas in the state of California. They are also prohibited from engaging in unfair business practices as defined in California Business and Profession code Section 17200. P&R Growers, Glenn, and Bigham were further ordered by the court to pay for the removal of and to remove all trees sold or planted by them in violation of State Interior Quarantine 3419, Date Palm Disease.
The permanent injunction and complaint for civil penalties stems from the growing, planting, selling, and transportation of potentially diseased Pygmy Date Palms.
Investigators from the State of California Department of Food and Agriculture began investigating the case to determine the origin of the Pygmy Date Palms sold by P&R Growers. State Interior Quarantine 3419, Date Palm Disease, exists to protect the date industry and date palm trees in Riverside and Imperial County. Regulations and restrictions apply to ensure that palms are not brought inside or taken outside of protected areas.
Trees sold or possessed in violation of the quarantine have the potential to wipe out the date industry. The law prohibits even the possession of trees that are in violation of the quarantine. It is very difficult to detect trees infected with the date palm disease for years after they have been infected. The disease can be spread through gardening tools and in years past the disease has caused the death of hundreds of thousands of trees in other areas. Trees sold in the quarantined area of Riverside County sell for much more money than those purchased outside the quarantined areas because the trees in the quarantined area must be grown from seed and certified by the Department of Agriculture.
From July, 2003 to September, 2004, investigators from the State Department of Food and Agriculture working together the Riverside County Agricultural Commissioners Office discovered that P&R Growers sold a total of 847 Phoenix Roebeleniis (Pygmy Date Palms) in violation of Food & Agriculture code Section 5306 and State Interior Quarantine 3419, Date Palm Disease. In April, 2004, they transported 500 of these diseased date palms from Riverside County to Imperial County.
In December, 2005, Glenn and Bigham pled guilty to misdemeanor violations of failure to comply with the quarantine and received three years probation.
"We filed the lawsuit in response to the great threat that the defendants actions pose to the date industry and other healthy date palms in the quarantine area. Disregarding the quarantine can have devastating consequences. Our hope is that the penalties imposed in this case will deter others from similar violations of the law," said Senior Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Weissman.
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