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SANTA CLARITA MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO CONSPIRACY TO VIOLATE THE CLEAN AIR ACT’S ASBESTOS WORK PRACTICE STANDARDS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 23, 2011

LOS ANGELES – A Santa Clarita resident pleaded guilty this afternoon to a felony charge of conspiring to violate the Clean Air Act’s asbestos work practice standards during the renovation of a San Fernando Valley apartment building – work that caused asbestos to be released into the complex and the surrounding community.

John Bostick, 40, pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Percy Anderson, who is scheduled to sentence the defendant on May 2. At sentencing, Bostick faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison.

According to a plea agreement filed in federal court, Bostick knew in January 2006 that asbestos was present in the ceilings in the Forest Glenn apartment complex, a 204-unit complex in Winnetka.  Knowing that the asbestos was there, Bostick and his co-conspirators hired a group of workers who were not trained or certified to conduct asbestos abatements. Bostick had the workers scrape the ceilings of the apartments without telling the workers about the asbestos.  The illegal scraping resulted in the repeated release of asbestos-containing material throughout the apartment complex and the surrounding area and caused the unlicensed workers to potentially be exposed to asbestos.  After the illegal asbestos abatement was shut down by an inspector from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the asbestos was cleaned up at a cost of approximately $1.2 million.

The federal Clean Air Act requires those who own or supervise the renovation of buildings that contain asbestos to adhere to certain established work practice standards.  These standards were created to ensure the safe removal and disposal of the asbestos and the protection of workers.

On June 14, 2010, Joseph Yoon, 33 ,the project manager, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act's asbestos work place standards at the apartment site.  Yoon, who is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Anderson on April 25, faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison.

A six-count indictment charging conspiracy and multiple Clean Air Act violations is pending against co-defendant Charles Yi, 45, of Santa Clarita, who was the owner of Millennium Pacific Icon Group, which owned the Forest Glen condominiums.  The trial in his case is scheduled for March 15. 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 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Criminal Enforcement, the California South Coast Air Quality Management District and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Bayron T. Gilchrist of the Environmental Crimes Section (213-894-3152) and Senior Trial Attorney David P. Kehoe of the U.S. Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division.

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Release No. 11-024

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