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NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


JOHN F. WOOD



Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html



MAY 21, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


OWNER OF THE MANHATTAN PLEADS GUILTY

TO ASBESTOS VIOLATIONS


            KANSAS CITY, Mo. – John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that the owner of The Manhattan condominiums pleaded guilty in federal court today to violating federal standards regarding the removal of asbestos material during the renovation of the building last year.


             Matthew J. Abbott, 34, of Kansas City, Mo., waived his right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Scott O. Wright this morning to a federal information that charges him with violating the Toxic Substances Control Act and another federal information that charges Manhattan KC, L.L.C., with violating the Clean Air Act. Abbott is the managing member of Manhattan KC, which owns The Manhattan (the former University Towers building) at 700 E. 8th St., in Kansas City.

 

             By pleading guilty today, Abbott admitted that he removed asbestos-containing material in the then-University Towers building in April and May 2006, without state accreditation as required under the Toxic Substances Control Act.


             On May 26, 2006, the Kansas City Health Department received an anonymous phone call from an individual who stated that Abbott was removing asbestos from the 12th floor of the University Towers building. KCHD inspectors went to University Towers in response to the call and observed a large amount of construction debris and dust on the 12th floor. Samples from the 12th floor and other areas throughout the building were analyzed and determined to contain three percent and four percent chrysotile asbestos, a regulated asbestos-containing material. Abbott admitted today that regulated asbestos-containing material was removed from the areas of University Towers by unaccredited workers.


             Abbott, as the representative of Manhattan KC, also pleaded guilty, in a separate but related case, to failing to comply with work practice standards in connection with the removal of asbestos material from University Towers in violation of the Clean Air Act. Because asbestos has been determined to be a hazardous air pollutant, the Environmental Protection Agency established regulations that must be followed to ensure the safe and proper handling, removal and disposal of asbestos during renovation work.


             Abbott admitted, in a second plea agreement today, that he and other workers removed regulated asbestos-containing material from the areas of the building involving more than 160 square feet of material without following the Clean Air Act work practice requirements.


             Under the terms of today’s plea agreements, Abbott has agreed to pay a $25,000 fine and The Manhattan KC will pay a $75,000 fine.


            This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anne E. Rauch. It was investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency – Criminal Investigation Division and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.


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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html