Ohio Business Owner Pleads Guilty to Asbestos-Related Offense
John Riazzi of Dayton, Ohio, pleaded guilty in federal court today to a felony charge stemming from the illegal removal of asbestos-containing roofing material from a building located in downtown Dayton (known as the “Steam Plant”).
According to court documents and statements made in court, in September 2015, Riazzi, the sole owner and operator of St. Peters Partners LLC, purchased the Steam Plant from the City of Dayton for $10. Later, after being told by his contractor that the roof of the Steam Plant contained asbestos and would cost approximately $20,000 to remove, Riazzi hired two men to remove the roofing over a weekend for $5000 – without warning them about the asbestos. Riazzi admitted that he knew, or should have known, that the roof contained asbestos. He also admitted that he did not have the roof inspected for asbestos prior to its removal, as the law required.
“Mr. Riazzi purposefully cut corners and endangered the health of those performing the roof removal. To make matters worse, he then lied to and misled investigators when asked about his wrongdoing” said Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The Department of Justice is committing to prosecuting all who deliberately harm the environment and risk public health in order to save money.”
“Renovating old buildings is great. Doing so without regard to air safety is not. And knowingly declining to inspect a roof before removing it, after having been warned that the original materials contained asbestos, is a federal crime,” said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman for the Southern District of Ohio. “This case is a good example of federal and state authorities working together to hold accountable someone who jeopardized his workers’ safety, as well as the quality of the air in Dayton, just to save a few bucks in construction costs.”
As part of his plea, Riazzi also acknowledged that he had personally used a leaf blower to blow roofing debris from the outside of the Steam Plant into the median of Third Street and had dumped a load of roofing material in some bushes opposite the Steam Plant. He likewise admitted to making several false statements to the Regional Air Pollution Control Agency (RAPCA), which was investigating the roof removal.
This investigation was conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division, and the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigations, with the assistance of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. The case is being prosecuted by Deputy Criminal Chief Laura Clemmens of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio, and Adam Cullman, Trial Attorney for the Department of Justice, Environmental Crimes Section.