Willmax Capital Management, Inc. and a Senior Corporate Manager Sentenced for Charges Related to Illegal Asbestos Release
DENVER – Willmax Capital Management, Inc. (Willmax Capital) and a senior corporate manager John Tom Williams, age 58, of Dallas, Texas, were sentenced earlier this week by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Lewis T. Babcock for crimes related to an illegal release of asbestos during a renovation project at a Willmax Capital-managed residential complex known as The Overlook at Mile High at 3190 West 14th Avenue in Denver, Colorado. The release, which affected more than a hundred individuals, occurred in early 2014.
Willmax Capital was ordered to spend 5 years on probation. Chief Judge Babcock ordered that as a condition of probation, the company must pay for and comply with a medical monitoring program for individuals who were exposed to asbestos as a result of the offense. The program will be conducted at National Jewish Health in Denver.
The judge will hold a hearing on August 7, 2017, to determine the amount of restitution the corporation must pay.
The judge sentenced Williams to serve 8 months in federal prison, followed by 1 year on supervised release. Williams was also ordered to pay a $100,000 fine.
The sentences were announced by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Criminal Investigations.
Willmax Capital Management was charged on November 16, 2016, with violating an EPA rule requiring it to inspect facilities for asbestos prior to renovation. Williams was charged the same day with negligently releasing asbestos into the air and thereby negligently placing other persons in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury. The defendants entered guilty pleas to those counts on December 14, 2016.
According to the stipulated facts in the defendants’ plea agreements, WillMax Capital failed to conduct an inspection to determine whether asbestos was present before starting the renovation. Williams’s plea agreement described him as the ultimate decision-maker for renovation activities at the Overlook, including the abatement of asbestos-containing materials, and noted that his subordinates relied on him to alert them when such activities might disturb asbestos.
“EPA did an exceptional job with this investigation and, together with our prosecutor, crafted a resolution that properly punishes dangerous activity at the same time it brings tangible relief to the real people who suffered the asbestos exposure," said Acting U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer.
“The defendants’ negligence in this case exposed more than 100 people to asbestos and jeopardized their health and safety,” said Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Martinez, who oversees EPA’s Criminal Enforcement Program in Colorado. “This plea agreement was negotiated to provide the victims with restitution and medical assistance they would not otherwise have received, and this case serves as a warning that violating rules that protect against public endangerment can have serious consequences.”
This case was investigated by special agents of the EPA Office of Criminal Investigations and was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Economic Crimes Section, part of the Criminal Division.