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Friday, February 19, 2010

Indictment Charging Four Individuals Unsealed in Condominium Asbestos Case

WASHINGTON—An 11-count indictment was unsealed today charging four individuals with conspiracy, violations of the Clean Air Act, and making false statements for their roles in a scheme to improperly remove and dispose of asbestos from multiple condominiums in Florida, the Justice Department announced.

John Loder, 43, of Redington Beach, Fla.; Stephen J. Spencer, 48, of Clearwater, Fla.; Guy Gannaway, 53, of Safety Harbor, Fla.; and Keith McConnell, a/k/a "Animal," 54, of Largo, Fla., were charged in the indictment.

According to the indictment, John Loder and Stephen J. Spencer were members of an entity called Sun Vista Development Group LLC, which was created to carry out the day-to-day operations and administrative work associated with the purchase, renovation and resale of large-scale condominium developments. Two of these developments were Barefoot Beach Resort, formerly known as Indian Pass Apartments, in Indian Shores, Fla., and Shore Club Pasadena, formerly known as Pasadena Apartments, in Pasadena, Fla. Guy Gannaway was the owner of Gannaway Builders Inc., a construction company hired as the general contractor for both Barefoot Beach Resort and Shore Club Pasadena. Keith McConnell was a supervisory employee of Gannaway Builders Inc. Units at these developments had ceilings coated with a "popcorn"-texture that contained greater than 1 percent asbestos.

According to the indictment, from November 2004 to Dec. 10, 2004, the defendants directed renovation work to begin at Barefoot Beach Resort without first conducting an asbestos survey for the building. From Dec. 10, 2004 until April 2005, the defendants discussed the asbestos at Barefoot Beach Resort and rejected at least one bid for complete removal of the asbestos-containing ceiling material from Barefoot Beach Resort. They decided, instead, to cover the existing ceilings with a new layer of drywall using Gannaway Builders employees and subcontractors to install the new drywall. The indictment alleges that the work practice standards for asbestos, developed as part of the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants, were not followed while the renovation was performed at Barefoot Beach Resort between Nov. 15, 2004, and Sept. 15, 2005. In some units, the asbestos-containing popcorn ceiling material was completely removed following a roof leak on or about June 24, 2005, also without following the asbestos work practice standards. Additionally, the indictment alleges that the defendants made and caused others to make false statements to the Pinellas County Air Quality Division in response to a notice of violation issued to Sun Vista Development Group and Gannaway Builders on Nov. 18, 2005.

Further, according to the indictment, from May 25, 2005 to Nov. 30, 2006, the defendants directed renovation work at Shore Club Pasadena without removing the asbestos-containing ceiling material prior to activity that disturbed the material. The renovation work that caused improper disturbances to the asbestos-containing material occurred without the presence of a properly trained on-site representative.

All four defendants are charged with conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act and to make false statements. The indictment additionally charges Loder and Spencer with five counts of violating the Clean Air Act and one count of making a false statement. The indictment charges Guy Gannaway with eight counts of violating the Clean Air Act and two counts of making a false statement. The indictment further charges Keith McConnell with eight counts of violating the Clean Air Act and one count of making a false statement.

An indictment is merely an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

The maximum penalty for each count of the indictment includes five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

This case was investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division with assistance from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida and the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section.

Press Release Number: 
Updated September 15, 2014