WASHINGTON, D.C. – Behzad Kahoolyzadeh, a west Los Angeles man, was sentenced to 37 months in jail and forced to pay $1.29 million in cleanup costs for conspiracy to improperly store and transport dangerous chemicals, primarily the dry cleaning solvent perchloroethylene (PERC), the Justice Department announced today.
Behzad Kahoolyzadeh, who also used the names Behzad Cohen and David Cohen, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. Kahoolyzadeh pleaded guilty on March 4, 2004 to conspiracy on two counts of the illegal transportation of hazardous waste and two counts of illegally storing hazardous waste.
“Illegal transportation of hazardous materials puts public health and the environment at risk," said David M. Uhlmann, Chief of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "The defendant's efforts to conceal his illegal conduct, carried out on behalf of one of the largest handlers of dry cleaning waste in the State of California, made this a particularly egregious case and warranted the jail sentence imposed by the federal district court."
"The defendant’s flagrant disregard for the safety of the public and environment by disobeying laws regulating the handling of hazardous waste and then falsifying records to conceal it warrants the sentence meted out today," said Granta Y. Nakayama, EPA's Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "Illegal storage and disposal practices for profit will not be tolerated and individuals, not just corporations, that refuse to comply with the law, will be vigorously prosecuted."
Kahoolyzadeh was associated with a company called AAD Distribution and Dry Cleaning Services, Inc. (AAD), which was based in Vernon, CA. AAD was one of the largest handlers of dry cleaning waste in California until it was shut down in January 2001. The company charged dry cleaners to pick up, treat and arrange for the disposal of a hazardous dry cleaning compound known as PERC, a cancer-causing chemical that is the number one contaminant of groundwater in Southern California.
In order to hide permit violations from city and state inspectors, Kahoolyzadeh and his partners conspired to load drums filled with PERC waste onto trucks before inspections, shipped them off-site, and then stored them at other facilities that were not permitted to store hazardous wastes. The manifests for these shipments were falsified to conceal these illegal shipments.
Kahoolyzadeh’s co-defendant Hormoz Pourat, Vice President of AAD and Manager of Right Choice, Inc., was also previously sentenced to 37 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $1.29 million in restitution for conspiring to violate hazardous waste laws at these two facilities.
The cases were investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigations Division; the U.S. Department of Transportation; the California Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Toxic Substances Control; the City of Vernon; and the Colorado State Attorney General’s Office.