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“Toxic Truck” Driver Lacks State Pest Control Docs

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MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – The Miami man who was found in the cab of a fume-filled pest-control pickup truck along I-95 in Palm Beach County Monday apparently was not legally allowed to do pest control work, according to an investigation by CBSMiami.com.

A search of state records indicates Jorge Barahona, who was found in a truck bearing the name CJ’s Pest Control, may have been having trouble with the pest control business he has run from his Southwest Miami-Dade home since March of 1998.

Barahona was found in a truck identifying his business Monday morning, along with a 10-year-old boy said by police to be a foster child in his care. Fumes in the truck sent the Barahona and the boy to the hospital, along with 4 firefighters. A body was found in the truck later in the day, sparking a major investigation.

Barahona and his wife, Carmen, incorporated CJ’s Pest Exterminators Inc. in March, 1998, and operated the business from their home on SW 47th terrace in Southwest Miami-Dade, according to records on file with the Florida Secretary of State.

Neighbors were aware of the business, and some had good things to say about Barahona and how he managed toxic pest-control chemicals.

“He was always very cautious when he did his stuff,” said neighbor Jim Sheppard. “He sprayed my house, and when he came in and sprayed my house he’d always put on a big respirator and ask me to step out. He’s always really cautious and careful about the chemicals.”

But according to state records, Barahona should not have been applying pest control chemicals in any home but his own.

The Florida Department of Agriculture database of licensed pest control operators  shows that while Barahona is a certified operator in good standing for general home pest control, a state ID card he was required to carry to do business in people’s homes expired in August of 2009, and had not been renewed. Without it, “It’s not legal for him go go out and perform pest control,” said a clerk in the Agriculture department’s department of Entomology and Pest Control.

Michael Page, Chief of the Bureau of Entomology and Pest Control, told CBSMiami.com that Barahona’s company’s license expired November 15th, 2009

There are other apparent lapses in Barahona’s business. In March, 2010, he failed to file a required annual report for CJ’s Pest Exterminators Inc. with the Secretary of State. According to state records, his corporation was dissolved 6 months later, in September 2010.

There is no record Barahona attempted to have the corporation reinstated, which would have required paying a $400 late filing penalty. Instead, in order to have the legal status to maintain a business bank account, Barahona filed a “Fictitious Name” request with the state, paying a $50 fee to use the name CJ’s Pest Control, which was the name on the pickup truck along I-95 Monday.

The state approved that request February 8th, 6 days before Barahona was found inside his truck, with a body in the back.

In Miami-Dade County, the law requires all businesses, including those operating from a home, to obtain a tax receipt. County records show there is no such certificate for Barahona’s address or any of the businesses located there. In addition, some businesses require a certificate of use depending on the type of business and where they operate.

Hilda Castillo, a spokesperson for Miami-Dade Building and Zoning, confirmed Tuesday afternoon that the county has no certificate of use on file for Barahona’s address.

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