Vancouver Man Sentenced to 14 Months in Prison for Lying About his Ability to Conduct Lead Testing
PORTLAND, Ore. – Martin Glaves Kuna, 66, of Vancouver, Washington, was sentenced yesterday to 14 months in prison by the U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon after pleading guilty today to one count of wire fraud. Kuna falsely advertised and told customers that he was certified to perform lead-based paint inspections and testing in homes where children resided, when in fact, he was not properly qualified or certified by state authorities to do so.
In response to medical studies on the health hazards presented to children by lead-based paint, Congress passed the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act (“Lead Hazard Act”). The Lead Hazard Act authorized the Environmental Protection Agency to develop regulations to ensure, among other things, that individuals engaged in lead-based paint inspections and testing were properly trained and certified. Oregon’s rules for the certification of individuals and firms engaged in lead-based paint inspections and testing prohibit any person or firm to perform lead-based paint inspections and testing in target housing or child-occupied facilities without first receiving appropriate certification.
From May 2008 to September 2012, Kuna advertised his services to conduct lead-based paint inspections and testing, and indicated to individuals via the internet and in person that he was certified to do so. Kuna, however, had not received the required certification and training to inspect and test target housing or child-occupied facilities for lead-based paint despite his representations that he had. Over the course of the scheme, Kuna conducted more than ten (10) such inspections. In one instance where Kuna performed lead-based paint inspections and testing, children resided in the home and Kuna provided the home owner a false negative for the detection of lead. Evidence introduced by the government at sentencing demonstrated that the defendant failed to perform the appropriate tests to determine lead in the home. As a result, some of the children in the home experienced increased lead levels in their blood.
In January 2012, civil EPA investigators intervened in Kuna’s business activities and ordered him to stop lead-based paint inspections and testing. Despite EPA’s order, Defendant Kuna continued to advertise and perform lead-based paint inspections and testing through September 2012. In sentencing Kuna, Judge Simon declared, “Our first duty in society as adults is to protect children.” Following his findings and imposition of 14 months in prison, Judge Simon told the defendant, “The bottom line is, the actions you engaged in put children at risk. Our society just cannot allow that.”
“Protecting children and families is the guiding principle behind our work,” said U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall. “This investigation and prosecution uncovered a significant public health risk. The defendant’s lies caused young children to be exposed to dangerous levels of lead. This office, along with our partners at EPA, will continue to seek criminal penalties for those who break the law and threaten the health of our children.”
“Defendant Kuna, untrained and uncertified to perform the lead-based paint inspection and testing services he sold to unsuspecting families, put children’s health in jeopardy,” said Tyler Amon, Special Agent-in-Charge of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in Seattle. “I commend the diligence of the Smith family, who by questioning the services of Mr. Kuna, started a federal investigation and prevented further exposure and injury to their children. This prosecution and conviction speaks for itself – if ‘business-as-usual’ includes exposing children to lead, you will pay the price.”
The investigation was conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency, and the prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Holman Kerin.