Visalia firm that offers classes for pesticide licenses fined $50,000

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Visalia-based company that offered test-prep classes for pesticide licenses recently agreed to pay the state a $50,000 fine, after admitting it violated the law.

According to P&L Marketing's website, some of its pesticide prep classes were held at the Visalia Convention Center. Others, including the one that started the investigation, were held at University of Phoenix in Sacramento.

On its website, P&L Marketing says it has been helping people pass the California Agricultural Pesticide License Exams with a proven track record of success.

But the state's department of pesticide regulation, or DPR, says P&L, which has long provided a variety of pesticide license exams around the state, violated the law - by offering practice exams with questions strangely similar to those in the official state test.

"We got a tip that this company was offering exams or tests that were remarkably similar to ours, so we launched an investigation after receiving this tip and sure enough we found out that this company was charging people to come and do a course. At the end of the course, there will be an exam, and some of the questions were so similar to DPR's exam that it was more than a coincidence," said Charlotte Fadipe of the CDPR.

The state says some of the exams with identical or nearly identical questions included plant agriculture, landscape maintenance, and microbial pest control.

Those are called pest control category tests, and someone must pass one of them in order to receive a qualified applicator license or certificate.

P&L charged $250 for their all day 'Pesticide Applicator Class.'

But according to their calendar, the last prep tests P&L offered were in September, and over the phone, the company's owner said P&L has dissolved.

In December, they agreed to pay the state a nearly $50,000 fine for what the state describes as subverting the tests.

The owner said most of what the state claims is true, but felt P&L provided an excellent service, and thanked their many customers and clients over the years.

State officials say they believe hundreds of people may have taken these practice exams.
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