Asbestos Criminals Get Prison Sentence

The City Manager and City Supervisor for Elk City, Oklahoma, were sentenced to serve at the Big Spring Prison Camp in Texas for violating the Clean Air Act. On December 19, 2006, City Manager Guy R. Hylton, Jr., and Elk City Supervisor Chick Arthur Little received their indictments for forcing inmates to do renovation work on the Rock Island Railroad Depot without protective respiratory gear or other safety measures. During the work, the inmates removed asbestos from the depot. Exposure to asbestos can result in many forms of cancer including the deadly mesothelioma. Both men were found guilty by an Oklahoma City jury of putting the workers in possibly life-threatening danger. Little was also found guilty on a felony charge that he lied to investigators.

The jury’s decision and the judge’s sentencing came in January 2008. As a result of the conviction, United States District Judge Joe Heaton sentenced Hylton to pay $15,000 for a fine and to serve six months in federal prison. Little was required to do 104 hours of community service, serve eight months in federal prison, and serve two years of supervised release upon release from prison. Both men filed appeals for the sentences and convictions to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, but they were informed just a year after their conviction, in January 2009, that their appeals were denied. The Federal Prison Camp in Big Spring, Texas, required Little to report on February 20, 2009, and Hylton was to report on March 6, 2009, to the same facility. Hylton resigned as Elk City Manager on February 16, 2009. According to the EPA Special Agent in Charge Warren Amburn, “EPA will continue to vigorously enforce our nation’s environmental laws through a strong enforcement program. We must hold those accountable who endanger others and lie to federal officials to cover up their misconduct.”