FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
TUESDAY, MAY 28, 2002
TDD (202) 514-1888
MEDICAL DOCTOR PLEADS GUILTY TO ILLEGAL DISPOSAL OF ASBESTOS;
HIRED HOMELESS PEOPLE AND OTHER WORKERS TO REMOVE ASBESTOS WITHOUT WARNING THEM OF HEALTH RISKS
WASHINGTON, D.C. – United States Attorney John L. Brownlee of the Western District of Virginia and Tom Sansonetti, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division announced today two guilty pleas in a case involving illegal disposal of asbestos. The guilty pleas of David Stephens Klein, 48, and Davold Real Estate Partnership were entered in United States Court in Harrisburg, Va.
Klein, presently of Heathrow, Fla., pled guilty to one count of illegally disposing asbestos from a building in Staunton, Va. in various locations, including the Augusta County landfill and dumpsters in and around Staunton. Davold Real Estate Partnership pled guilty to one count of illegally removing asbestos at a building known as the Town Centre in Staunton.
Klein, a medical doctor who previously ran pain clinics in the Shenandoah Valley, faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Davold faces up to five years of probation and a $500,000 fine.
Klein and Davold hired homeless people and other workers to remove asbestos insulation from pipes and boilers located in both the Masonic and Towne Centre buildings in Staunton. These workers were neither told that the material they were removing was asbestos, nor were they provided with any protective equipment adequate to prevent the inhalation of asbestos fibers during the removal or transportation for disposal of the asbestos-containing insulation.
Asbestos is considered to be a hazardous air pollutant that is associated with very serious diseases. The investigation revealed that not only was asbestos improperly disposed of at a municipal landfill, but also at various other locations including a dumpster at a high school, by a restaurant and in a cistern.
"The defendants exploited these innocent people who were trying to earn a living through hard work – their health was put at serious risk and they were given no warning, no training, no respect," said Sansonetti. "The law requires asbestos workers to be properly trained and asbestos removal must follow government regulations to safeguard the health of all citizens. Those who cut corners at the expense of other people will ultimately lose out, as is the result in this case."
Klein and Davold had both been charged in a seven-count indictment that arose out of an investigation into the illegal removal and disposal of asbestos at and from the above-referenced buildings in Staunton that were owned by Davold Partnership and operated by Klein. The indictment charged the defendants with conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act's rules governing the safe and proper handling and disposal of asbestos, plus six other counts arising from such illegal removal and disposal activities. Two other co-conspirators of Klein and Davold earlier pled guilty to similar charges.
The investigation of the case was conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The case was prosecuted by the Western District of Virginia's U.S. Attorney's Office and the Department of Justice's Environmental Crimes Section.