News and Press Releases

Lorne J. Elbert, Jr., age 74, and Elbert Building Company, Inc., Charged with crimes related to the illegal removal of asbestos from the former Builders Square building in Lorain

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 2, 2012

Mike Tobin, Public Affairs Specialist, (216) 622-3651

A federal grand jury in Cleveland returned a two-count indictment charging Lorne J. Elbert, Jr., age 74, and Elbert Building Company, Inc., related to the illegal removal of asbestos from the former Builders Square building in Lorain, Ohio, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and Randall K. Ashe, Special Agent in Charge for the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Elbert Building Company, Inc. (“EBC”) is a construction and demolition company located in Elyria, Ohio. Mr. Elbert is the President of EBC. In 2007, Mr. Elbert purchased the former Builders Square building in Lorain, Ohio, with the intent of demolishing the building and redeveloping the property. The boiler room of the building contained approximately 800 square feet of asbestos, according to the indictment.

It is further alleged that on July 19, 2007, Mr. Elbert sent a notice to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (“Ohio EPA”) stating that a licensed asbestos contractor would be removing the asbestos from the building prior to demolition. However, shortly after the notice was sent, Mr. Elbert hired an unlicensed individual to remove the asbestos from the boiler room of the building. On or about August 7, 2007, this individual removed the asbestos from the boiler room of the building. This person was not licensed to remove asbestos and his work was not supervised by a properly trained manager, according to the indictment.

The indictment charges in the first count that Mr. Elbert and EBC falsely stated to Ohio EPA that a licensed asbestos removal contractor would be removing the asbestos from the boiler room of the building, when in fact Mr. Elbert hired an unlicensed individual to remove the asbestos from the boiler room of the building.

In the second count of the indictment Mr. Elbert is charged with failing to have a properly trained manager on-site when the asbestos was removed from the boiler room of the building.

“Our office is committed to making sure rules designed to ensure the public’s health and safety are followed by all companies,” Dettelbach said.

“Companies must be truthful in their dealings with Ohio EPA and follow the rules intended to protect human health and the environment,” said Randall K. Ashe, Special Agent in Charge for the U.S. EPA in Ohio. “We will investigate and help to prosecute those who chose not to do so.”

If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to each case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.

This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Brad Beeson and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael L. Collyer following an investigation by the U.S. EPA Criminal Investigation Division, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, all members of the Northeast Ohio Environmental Crimes Task Force.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

 

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