A woman was sentenced the third week of February 2009 for a conviction in 2008 of 28 charges for using 800 illegal immigrants under her employ to remove asbestos without proper training, giving them falsified identifications, and evading tax payments.
The 39-year-old Albania Deleon from Andover was the target of prosecutors for a tough sentence. Her sentence, it was hoped, would send the message to people who own asbestos removal businesses that the law will be adhered to strictly. The Assistant US Attorney Jonathan Mitchell said, “The government is going to seek a sentence that sends a loud and clear message to the asbestos industry that it is extraordinarily important that workers be properly trained to handle asbestos, both for their own safety and to protect the public.” Deleon was facing a potential maximum sentence of five years in prison per charge, with the exception of the six counts of mail fraud, which would be 20 years maximum in prison. Deleon and her lawyer, Carl N. Donaldson, declined to make a comment, but she did say that she would file an appeal.
Deleon’s businesses, Methuen-based companies, Environmental Compliance Training Inc. and Methuen Abatement Staffing Inc., were the largest training facilities for asbestos removal in the state of Massachusetts. They went out of business after Deleon’s conviction in 2008. Other companies have stepped in to fill the void left by the downfall of Deleon’s business. Deleon was convicted of side-stepping the legal asbestos certification system. She falsified certificates for asbestos training and lied about this practice before the state. She also paid hundreds of her employees under the table, thereby avoiding payroll taxes and premium payments for workers’ compensation. The total payroll of the Methuen Abatement Staffing that went unreported was $4.6 million between 2002 and 2006. Deleon also helped workers from foreign nations to get phony United States Social Security cards. Deleon was convicted in November 2008 following a two-and-a-half-week-long trial. Between her conviction and sentencing, she remained on house arrest in her home in Andover, Massachusetts.