North tonawanda man pleads guilty to criminal charge related to the kensington towers project
BUFFALO, N.Y. – U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul announced today that Brian Scott, 33, of North Tonawanda, N.Y., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Arcara, to 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.
During the abatement for building A-1 by Johnson Contracting, Rai Johnson wrote in his daily project log that all floor tiles containing asbestos had been removed from the building, when in truth, all asbestos floor tiles had not been removed. Thereafter, on July 7, 2009, the defendant conducted a visual inspection of building A-1 for floor tile and issued a satisfactory visual inspection, when in truth, the defendant was aware that all asbestos-containing floor tiles 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 third 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 Chris Coseglia, Henry Hawkins and Evan Harnden, 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 remaining defendants are scheduled to go on trial May 13, 2014 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, Special Agents of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development - Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent-In-Charge Christina Scaringi; and Investigators of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Police, Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation, under the direction of Captain Frank Lauricella. Additional assistance was provided by the New York State Department of Labor, Asbestos Control Bureau.