Taking advantage of undocumented immigrants seeking living-wage jobs in the U.S., Environmental Compliance Training, one of the largest asbestos worker training facilities in New England, failed to provide adequate training to asbestos workers and sold them false certificates indicating the workers had completed an approved training course. These untrained workers were then able to obtain employment at public facilities and private asbestos abatement companies.
Commissioner Laura Marlin of the Massachusetts Division of Occupational (MDOS) Safety reassured people through the media that there was no danger to the general public because of the additional safeguards required by Massachusetts state regulations.
The untrained workers however, may have been exposed to asbestos fibers. Marlin said that asbestos abatement work is “…particularly hazardous if workers are not trained in the proper procedures to use to protect their own health.”
This appears to be the case regarding the workers in question, based on the results of an investigation by the EPA, Immigration and Customs, the IRS and the Social Security Administration, along with other federal and state agencies.
The owner of Environmental Compliance Training, Albania DeLeon, and an employee, Jose F. Garcia, have been indicted in federal court on fraud and conspiracy charges. According to the indictment, Garcia issued certificates to applicants who had not actually taken the course. Meanwhile, DeLeon is alleged to have fabricated “records” by having the applicants sign examination sheets that had already been completed and graded, which she then maintained in the school’s files. After this, the unqualified workers were hired by DeLeon’s own temporary services agency, Methuen Staffing. The company specialized in asbestos abatement.
Federal and state laws require 32 hours of training and successful completion of an exam before asbestos workers are licensed.
While the fact of the falsifying of documents is not in question, DeLeon’s defense lawyer, Carl Donaldson, says that his client was unaware of what was going on: “Not only did she not have any knowledge that it happened, but she’s shocked and outraged that the people she delegated those responsibilities to allowed it to happen.”
If found guilty, DeLeon and Garcia each face prison terms of up to five years, three years probation, and fines of a quarter-million dollars.