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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 27, 2013

Ohio Man Pleads Guilty to Criminal Charge Related to the Kensington Towers Project

 

         BUFFALO, N.Y.– U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul announced today that Chris Coseglia, 27, from Ohio, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Arcara, to one charge of being an accessory after the fact to a false statement under the Clean Air Act. The charge carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison, a fine of $125,000 or both.

Assistant U. S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango, who is handling the case, stated that the defendant was employed by JMD Environmental, Inc. (JMD) as an air sampling technician and a project monitor, and was certified by the New York State Department of Health to conduct asbestos project monitor and air sampling duties. From June 9, 2009 to January 11, 2010, co-defendants Johnson Contracting of WNY, Inc. (Johnson Contracting), Ernest Johnson, and Rai Johnson, conducted asbestos abatement activities at six buildings at the Kensington Towers Apartment Complex in Buffalo. During the abatement process, co-defendant Rai Johnson created daily project logs to document the progress at Kensington Towers. The logs are documents required to be maintained under the Clean Air Act.

At the conclusion of the abatement for building B-2 by Johnson Contracting, Rai Johnson wrote in his daily project log that all material containing asbestos had been removed from the boiler room, when in truth, all asbestos had not been removed. Thereafter, on August 25, 2009, the defendant conducted a visual inspection of the boiler room at building B-2 and issued a satisfactory visual inspection, when in truth, the defendant was aware that all asbestos had not been removed. In doing so, the defendant acted as an accessory after the fact to the false statement made by the Johnson defendants.

This is the second defendant to plead guilty as part of the Kensington Towers asbestos abatement project. In addition to Ernest and Rai Johnson, other charged defendants include JMD project monitors Evan Harnden, and Brian Scott; and current and former public officials responsible for certifying the project’s compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including Donald Grzebielucha, William Manuszewski, and Theodore Lehmann.  The defendants are expected to go on trial October 22, 2013 before U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Arcara. The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The plea is the culmination of an investigation on the part of Special Agents of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Criminal Investigation Division, under the direction of Acting Special Agent-In-Charge, Vernesa Jones-Allen; Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-In-Charge Brian P. Boetig; Special Agents of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development - Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent-In-Charge Cary Rubenstein; and Investigators of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Police, BECI, under the direction of Captain David Bennett.  Additional assistance was provided by the New York State Department of Labor, Asbestos Control Bureau.

Sentencing is scheduled for February 13, 2014 at 12:30 p.m. before Judge Arcara.