EPA FUGITIVE CAPTURED IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
BOSTON, Mass. - Nineteen months after she fled her federal sentencing hearing, ALBANIA DELEON was captured on Saturday in the Dominican Republic. Dominican law enforcement authorities, with the assistance of the United States Marshals Service, arrested Deleon following a vehicle stop. Deleon had dyed her hair blond to disguise her appearance, and had assumed a false identity.
On Nov. 20, 2008, Deleon, 41, was convicted in federal court after nearly a three week trial on one count of conspiracy to make false statements, to encourage illegal aliens to reside in the United States and to hire illegal aliens; five counts of making false statements within the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency; 16 counts of procuring false payroll tax returns; and five counts of mail fraud.
From approximately 2001 to 2006, Deleon owned and operated Environmental Compliance Training (ECT), a certified asbestos training school located in Methuen. ECT normally offered training courses on a weekly basis at its Methuen offices, however many of the recipients of the certificates never took the required course. Instead, with Deleon’s knowledge and approval, ECT’s office employees issued certificates of course completion to hundreds of individuals who did not take the course. These individuals filed the certificates with the Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety in order to be authorized to work in the asbestos removal industry. Many of the recipients were illegal aliens who wished to skip the four-day-long course so that they would not forego a week’s pay.
ECT’s training course records were subject to inspection, therefore Deleon sought to cover up ECT’s practice of issuing certificates to untrained applicants by having the applicants sign final examination answer sheets that already had been completed and graded, which she maintained in ECT’s files. Evidence at trial proved that of the all the ECT training certificates issued, approximately 65% to 80% had not taken the necessary training.
Most of these individuals were employed by Methuen Staffing, Deleon’s temporary employment agency that specialized in asbestos demolition. She sent these employees to job sites throughout Massachusetts, including the Boston, Worcester and New Bedford-Fall River areas, as well as to New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut and beyond. Deleon paid most of these employees “under-the-table,” that is, without taxes withheld, and reported to the IRS and her workers compensation insurance carriers only those employees that actually had taxes withheld. This enabled her to save over a million of dollars in tax and insurance payments.
Deleon was scheduled to be sentenced on March 23, 2010, however, two days before sentencing, she fled Massachusetts, leaving behind her son and husband. When she failed to appear at the sentencing hearing, United States District Judge Nathaniel Gorton issued a warrant for her arrest. Shortly thereafter, Deleon became the first woman named to EPA’s Fugitive List. The U.S. Marshals Service undertook a nationwide search for her, and once it determined that she had fled the country, the U.S. State Department submitted, on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, a request to the Dominican government to arrest and extradite Deleon.
Agents with the Direccion Nacional de Control de Drogas (DNCD) observed Deleon and her son at a residence in the Eixample district in the capital of Santa Domingo, where she departed in a 2001 Toyota Highlander. Agents pulled the vehicle over several blocks from the residence, arresting Deleon. Upon her arrest, she claimed she was not Albania Deleon, and was instead Elba Henriquez Peña, a native of Jamao, and was carrying a false identity card with her picture and her name. Upon furthering questioning, she admitted that she was in fact Albania Deleon and was wanted in the United States. Deleon was transported to DNCD HQ for booking and processing and will be held pending an extradition hearing.
“We are pleased that Albania Deleon will at last face punishment for the crimes for which she was convicted,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “I wish to commend and thank the Dominican law enforcement authorities and U.S. Marshals Service for their hard work in pursuing her.”
“The United States Marshals Service would like to thank the State Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Attorney’s Office and the Direccion Nacional de Control de Drogas in the Dominican Republic for their combined effort in bringing Albania Deleon to justice. Deputy Marshals stationed in the DR, in conjunction with the Dominican Republic Police, did an outstanding job of working together throughout this entire investigation. We look forward to bringing Deleon back to the United States to face her punishment,” said U.S. Marshall John Gibbons.
“After having placed hundreds of people at risk of significant health problems purely for greed, DeLeon will now receive the punishment for her crimes,” said Special Agent in Charge of the EPA Michael Hubbard.
Deleon faces an extradition hearing in the Dominican Republic. Upon her return to the United States, she will face sentencing before Judge Gorton where she face up to five years imprisonment on each count, except for the mail fraud counts, which carry 20-year maximum sentences.
United States Attorney Ortiz; John Gibbons, United States Marshall for the District of Massachusetts; Michael Hubbard, Special Agent in Charge of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division; Bruce M. Foucart, Special Agent in Charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Office of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; William Offord, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue’s Criminal Investigation – Boston Field Office; Scott Antolik, Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Inspector General, U.S. Social Security Administration, Office of Investigations – Boston Field Division; Anthony DiPaolo, Chief of Investigations of the Massachusetts Insurance Fraud Bureau; and Laura Marlin, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety made the announcement today.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan F. Mitchell of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit.