The owner and operator of a Tennessee salvage and demolition company, A&E Salvage Inc., pleaded guilty today in federal court in Greeneville, Tennessee, for conspiring to violate the Clean Air Act.
Mark Sawyer pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Greer for the Eastern District of Tennessee to one criminal felony count for conspiring to violate the Clean Air Act’s “work practice standards” salient to the proper wetting, stripping, bagging and disposal of asbestos. According to the charges, Sawyer, along with other co-conspirators, engaged in a multi-year scheme in which substantial amounts of regulated asbestos containing materials were improperly removed from components of the former Liberty Fibers Plant or were illegally left in place during demolition.
Sawyer faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss to the victims. Sawyer is the last of five charged co-defendants to plead guilty. Sawyer, Eric Gruenberg, Nick Smith, Armida DiSanti and Milto DiSanti are due to be sentenced on Nov. 19, 2014.
Asbestos has been determined to cause lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma, an invariably fatal disease. The Environmental Protection Agency has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos.
This case was investigated by Special Agents of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew T. Morris of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee and Senior Trial Attorney Todd W. Gleason of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.