ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) - City leaders claim roaches and rats infiltrated the Medium Security Jail, known as the Workhouse. But the man in charge of pest control for city-owned buildings says that’s a complete lie, and now, he’s threatening to sue.
“This was nothing more than someone's agenda, that I got dragged into,” he said.
Newly elected St. Louis mayor Tishaura Jones led a group of elected leaders on a tour of the Criminal Justice Center (CJC) and the Medium Security Institution, known as the Workhouse, on Saturday. The group emerged from the Workhouse and had harsh criticism for the living conditions.
Terry Hoselton owns Missouri Pest Consultants and has had a contract to do pest control for every single St. Louis City building for 16 years.
“Its a lot of work. 33 fire houses, plus police stations, city buildings, court buildings, it’s a lot going on,” he said.
In fact, he’s been on News 4 before, when he was eradicating the rats in Kiener Plaza a few years ago.
“We do a good job for them,” he said.
That’s why he says he was shocked by remarks from some local leaders about conditions inside the Workhouse. Last week, the last detainees were moved out, though officials have now said a portion of the Workhouse will stay open as a contingency plan. Mayor Tishaura Jones claimed roaches and rodents were part of the inhumane conditions in the jail, and reasons for its closure.
“It was a flat out lie, it wasn't even remotely close to the truth,” Hoselton said.
Hoselton says he’s been in the Workhouse every single month, until April, saying there’s been no sign of infestation for years.
“I haven't seen a rat, a mouse, nothing in there in years,” he said.
Video taken by the Assistant Public Safety Director on May 7 showed some bugs, but the Corrections Commissioner can be heard saying there’s no widespread infestation.
“They did defame my business,” he said.
Shortly after officials’ public comment, Hoselton sent an email, saying all city services were suspended due to defamation. He says he’s lost other business due to their comments and he’s considering suing.
“I can't have that, I just can't have that. It's not how you conduct your business,” said Hoselton.
In the meantime, he says the city kept sending work orders, even to spray for bugs at the Justice Center downtown. He’s heard about bugs and rodents popping up in other city buildings, but he says, that’s no longer his problem. His service, he says, was a good deal for the city, and he says finding other pest services will likely cost more.
“It’s going to cost the taxpayers, there is no way around it, the taxpayer is going to pay for this, they always do,” Hoselton said.
News 4 learned that the city recently paid Rottler to get rid of ants in City Hall. We have asked for a comment from Jones' office, who confirms they are now working with another pest control company, but would not be specific what the cost would be to taxpayers, nor did they respond specifically to Hoselton's claim of defamation.