Last week, three Pinellas County developers were found guilty of violating federal environmental laws concerning asbestos disposal from construction sites. The charges were originally filed last year against four individuals connected with the Sun Vista Development Group. The charges follow the group’s move during the real estate boom to acquire four properties with the intent of transforming them into luxury condominiums. Two of the projects floundered while the other two – one in Indian Shores, FL and one in South Pasadena, FL – are the jobs in violation of the Clean Air Act.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that, when disturbed, releases tiny fibers that can be inhaled and ultimately cause a number of adverse health effects including mesothelioma. Prior to the public awareness of potential health problems, asbestos was used in a number of construction materials for its resistance to heat, friction, electrical, and chemical damage. Because, asbestos poses such deadly health risks, special care must be taken in its removal from building sites and subsequent disposal. These extra measures and expenses can lead to illegal disposals, like the ones undertaken by the Sun Vista Development Group, despite the potential fines and jail time for lawbreakers.
The charges for the four men resulted in the following verdicts:
– John Loder, managing partner of Sun Vista Development Group: acquitted on 5 charges with a mistrial declared on 2 others.
– Stephen Spencer, managing partner of Sun Vista Development Group: found guilty on 2 charges and acquitted on 5.
– Guy Gannaway, owner of Gannaway Builders and partner with Sun Vista on the 2 sites: found guilty on 8 counts and not guilty on 3 counts.
– Keith McConnell, supervisor for Gannaway Builders: found guilty on 7 counts and not guilty on 3 charges.
The sentencing has yet to take place, but the maximum indictment for each guilty count is five years in jail and a $250,000 fine. At least one contractor already plans to appeal the verdicts.
Have you or a loved one been exposed to asbestos? An asbestos attorney may be able to help.