Building Owner Pleads Guilty to Illegally Removing Asbestos during Renovation

The owner of the well-known Equitable Building in Des Moines is facing up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty this week to conspiring to illegally removing asbestos from a well known building in downtown Des Moines.

Bob Knapp, the 61-year-old former owner of the Equitable Building until he lost it to foreclosure in 2010, pled guilty in a District Court to two charges related to illegally removing asbestos products from the building and violating the Clean Air Act during renovations that occurred between 2005 and 2008. The renovations were part of plan put in place by Knapp following his purchase of the building in 2005 to convert the upper floors into luxury condominiums.

Russell Coco, the manager of the renovation project, had previously been indicted on similar asbestos removal charges. He pled guilty to the charges, and agreed to testify against Knapp if the case went to trial.

The maximum prison term that Knapp is eligible for is 5 years for each count. He also may be subject to a fine of up to $250,000 per count. This will be the second punishment for Knapp, as he agreed to pay a $500,000 civil fine to the State of Iowa for improperly removing asbestos products in 2009 as well.

Exposing asbestos products in the downtown area could potentially have serious repercussions, as anyone in the vicinity of the exposure site stands the risk of inhaling the deadly fibers. While increased exposure to asbestos increases the chances of developing asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, even incidental or one-time exposure has the potential to make you sick.

Mesothelioma and asbestosis are both deadly illnesses that are caused primarily by prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers. If you have developed one of these illnesses, it may be worth pursuing a mesothelioma lawsuit that could potentially result in a substantial asbestos settlement. If you think that a mesothelioma attorney could help prove your illness was caused by a specific entity’s negligence, please contact Sokolove Law for a free legal consultation.