LOS ANGELES – Charles Yi and John Bostick were arrested Wednesday for violations of the Clean Air Act’s asbestos work practice standards committed during the renovation of a 204-unit apartment building in Winnetka, Calif., in January through February of 2006, the Justice Department announced today.
The arrest follows a six-count indictment returned against Yi and Bostick by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles on July 22, 2010. The indictment also charged the defendants with conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act.
The Clean Air Act requires those who remove asbestos from buildings to adhere to established work practice standards to ensure the safe removal, transportation, and disposal of the asbestos.
The defendants were high level officers of three companies that purchased the property and oversaw its renovation and conversion for sale as condominiums. The indictment alleges that, despite having knowledge of asbestos contained in the acoustical or "popcorn" ceilings of the apartment units, the defendants hired a company that was not licensed or trained in asbestos abatement to scrape the ceilings of the units without telling the company’s workers of the asbestos in the ceilings or providing them with adequate protective gear.
The indictment charges the defendants with violations of several asbestos worker protection standards, including failing to notify the government of the asbestos abatement project, failing to have a foremen on site trained in the asbestos regulations, failing to keep the asbestos waste material wet during the abatement, failing to contain the asbestos waste material in air tight containers and failing to dispose of the asbestos waste material at a hazardous waste disposal site.
If convicted, the defendants face up to five years in prison as well as a criminal fine of up to $250,000 for each count.
The allegations in the indictment are mere accusations and all persons are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case was investigated by the Criminal Investigation Division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California South Coast Air Quality Management District. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California and the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section.