The Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. has agreed to plead guilty to charges in federal court and pay $4.5 million in fines in connection with two incidents dating back to 2008.

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. has agreed to plead guilty to charges in federal court and pay $4.5 million in fines in connection with two incidents dating back to 2008.

One involved the recall of seed for wild birds that had been coated with pesticides that were toxic to birds.

The second involved the sale of lawn and garden products with falsified U.S. Environmental Protection Agency pesticide registration numbers.

The guilty plea and fines were contained in a plea-agreement document filed Jan. 26 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

Scotts spokesman Jim King said the agreement has yet to be approved by a judge and declined to comment.

According to court documents, Scotts distributed 73 million units of birdseed coated with the insecticides Storcide II and Actellic 5E between November 2005 and March 2008. The chemicals were used to keep insects from eating the seeds during storage.

Storcide's label says the pesticide is "extremely toxic to fish and toxic to birds and other wildlife." Documents filed with the court state that Scotts continued to sell the products, despite warnings in the summer and fall of 2007 from a pesticide chemist and an ornithologist, both of whom worked for the company.

Also in 2008, federal EPA officials discovered that Scotts was selling a lawn service fertilizer, a garden "weed preventer and plant food" and another product called Southern Max Fire Ant Killer with falsified pesticide registrations.

Scotts officials said in 2008 that the fake numbers were the actions of a single manager who was later fired. Court records state that the manager "intentionally misled EPA by assuring EPA officials that the products were registered, suggesting EPA had lost its files."

Part of the fine - $500,000 - will be evenly split among five groups and agencies to fund efforts to protect birds. They are Audubon Ohio, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Urban Forestry Program, Columbus Metro Parks, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Ohio Nature Conservancy.