Homes, schools and various other businesses in upstate, New York who thought they were taking appropriate safety precautions to prevent asbestos exposure in their buildings were duped by an air monitoring company that falsified its results, according to a recent ruling released by the U.S. Department of Justice this week. Certified Environmental Services Inc., two of its managers, and one of its employees were found to be guilty of conspiring to aid and abet Clean Air Act violations, commit mail fraud, and defraud the United States on Wednesday by a Utica, NY federal jury.
Elisa Dunn, one of the company’s managers, was also found guilty of making false statements to federal law enforcement. The charges stemmed from a conspiracy that was uncovered in which CES, Aapex Environmental, and Paragon Environmental falsified lab reports that tested if asbestos levels had declined in a building following projects in which they had been hired to remove materials that contained the fibers. In many instances, owners of homes, schools, and office buildings in the area were told by companies that the structure was asbestos-free, when in reality asbestos debris remained following “sloppy abatement work.”
“Because of the dishonest and illegal practices of this company, many people were left unaware for years of their possible exposure to asbestos,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, the assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice. “Companies and employees will be fully investigated and prosecuted when they put the public’s health at risk by violating environmental laws.”
Both Aapex Environmental and Paragon Environmental have pled guilty to similar charges as CES. Cynthia Giles, the assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, said that the act of falsifying asbestos reports – or any data regarding air quality – was “a serious crime” that “undermines our nation’s efforts to protect human health and the environment,”
“Exposure to asbestos can be fatal, and the conviction by a jury shows that the American people will not tolerate illegal activity that puts the public at risk of cancer or other serious respiratory diseases,” Giles added.
The ruling is only the latest victory for the EPA as it attempts to crack down on air monitoring companies that commit asbestos-related violations, improper abatement procedures, and illegal disposal activities.
For those who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or asbestos cancer that can be linked to asbestos exposure caused by a product, former employer, or improper removal of asbestos, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Contact an experienced mesothelioma attorney to learn more about your rights, and to see if pursuing a mesothelioma settlement is in your best interest.