A Massachusetts woman potentially faces more than 200 years in prison for improperly training asbestos abatement experts, forging their test scores, and sending them out on jobs in which they were paid illegally, putting countless individuals in the state at an increased risk of being exposed to asbestos.
From 2001 until 2006, now 41-year-old Albania Deleon of North Andover, MA ran fraudulent weekly classes at Environmental Compliance Training, the largest asbestos abatement training school in Massachusetts. However, in many of the classes run by Deleon those enrolled – many of whom were illegal immigrants – did not take all of the proper tests and instead simply signed answer sheets that had already been completed and graded. It was later determined that between 65 and 80 percent of those who took Deleon’s course did not receive proper training before getting their certificate.
Additionally, after receiving the certificates needed to perform asbestos abatement procedures throughout the state, Deleon sent the workers out on jobs, but paid them illegally and “under-the-table,” the Massachusetts branch of the U.S. District Attorney’s Office found.
After her scam was finally revealed, Deleon was eventually found guilty of one count of conspiracy to make false statements, to encourage illegal aliens to reside in the United States and to hire illegal aliens; five counts of making false statements within the jurisdiction of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; 16 counts of procuring false payroll tax returns; and five counts of mail fraud on November, 20, 2008.
However, after she did not appear at her March 23, 2010 sentencing, it was determined that she had fled the state, and maybe the country. After a nearly 7-month-long manhunt, during which she became the first woman to ever be named to the Environmental Protection Agency’s, Deleon was eventually located in Santa Domingo and extradited back to the U.S.
While her second sentencing date was originally scheduled to occur on January 20 at Boston’s federal court, it was rescheduled to March 23 after Deleon requested a new lawyer. She faces up to 230 years in prison for her 28 convictions.
“Albania Deleon put communities at risk by issuing fraudulent asbestos-removal training certificates to hundreds of untrained workers,” Cynthia Giles, the assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, said in a press release. “This is yet another example of great teamwork and dedication of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts, U.S. Marshals Service and our own special agents who protect the American people from environmental crimes.”
For those who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer that can be linked to asbestos exposure caused by a product or former employer, 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.