Tyrone Maple, 51, of the Bronx faces up to three years in state prison after pleading guilty on charges that he removed asbestos from a Paterson, New Jersey church in an unsafe fashion. Maple’s removal of the asbestos released dust and debris containing the deadly mineral into other parts of the church, including the facility’s day care center. Maple was a member of the Friendship Baptist Church and was a boiler repairman by trade. According to the state’s complaint against him, he contracted with his church to remove the asbestos insulation from the basement of the church building, and did the work in December of 2007.
He removed asbestos insulation from the basement’s steam pipe system so that they could be repaired. A member of the church complained about the unlicensed removal and the church hired an air quality testing firm in early 2008. The tests pointed to high levels of asbestos throughout the entire first floor of the church building, including the day care center. Both the center and the church closed down for several days while a licensed asbestos abatement operator removed the dust and debris. The New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice Environmental Crimes Bureau investigated the case, finding that Maple’s removal of the asbestos posed serious health risks to the young children in the day care center. The elevated asbestos levels existed for a period of about two months before the complaint led to the testing and removal of the debris and dust.