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Press Release

Idaho Business Owner Pleads Guilty to Criminal Clean Air Act Violation in Connection with Asbestos Exposure

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Washington

Spokane, Washington – Vanessa R. Waldref, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced today that Alexander Borys Mischenko, age 75, of Priest River, Idaho, pled guilty to criminal violation of the Clean Air Act in connection with asbestos contamination at a site in Spokane in 2018. Senior District Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson accepted Mischenko’s guilty plea, and set sentencing for January 24, 2023, at 2 p.m. in Spokane, Washington.

According to the plea agreement and other information disclosed during court proceedings, in October 2017, Mischenko and his company, Buck Creek Sales, signed a contract to dismantle a legacy industrial building located on Magnesium Road in North Spokane and known as “Building 5.” Mischenko’s contract included funding to commission and perform an asbestos survey to determine whether and to what extent Building 5 contained asbestos.

Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral that, due to its insulating and fire-resistant properties, was a commonly-used material in buildings constructed prior to 1980, such as Building 5. Because inhalation of asbestos fibers has been linked to various dangerous lung conditions, including mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer, asbestos-containing material is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and, in Spokane County, by the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency (SRCAA).

According to information disclosed in court, in late 2017, a certified asbestos inspector did perform an asbestos survey of Building 5. The survey showed significant quantities of asbestos-containing material in Building 5, including approximately 2,600 linear feet of asbestos-containing material known as thermal systems insulation (TSI). The survey noted that the asbestos-containing TSI was “friable” (that is, easily crumbled with hand pressure), and, therefore, “will require removal by a licensed asbestos contractor prior to any renovation or demolition activity that would directly impact these materials.” Mischenko was provided a copy of the survey report on or about December 4, 2017.

Subsequent to receiving the survey results, Mischenko, who was not a licensed asbestos contractor, and at least one employee, cut the asbestos-containing TSI off of the pipe and disposed of the pipe. Mischenko then placed the asbestos-containing TSI into 14 unsealed sacks and one open-top wooden crate, and moved the sacks and the crate to a nearby building, where they remained until they were found by inspectors from SRCAA and, later, EPA. Mischenko did not notify SRCAA or EPA prior to engaging in the work, which, due to the work methods employed by Mischenko, released significant quantities of asbestos fibers into the air as well as scattered on the floor of Building 5.

In summer 2022, U.S. Attorney Waldref, who previously served as Trial Attorney with DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and an environmental law professor at Gonzaga University’s School of Law, was selected to lead the Environmental Justice & Environmental Issues Subcommittee for the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee. As the subcommittee chair, U.S. Attorney Waldref plays a key role in leading and coordinating DOJ’s criminal and civil environmental enforcement efforts.

“Environmental Justice is a critical public health priority,” said U.S. Attorney Waldref. “When businesses or individuals cut corners to save money, and fail to take seriously the public health risk posed by dangerous contaminants like asbestos, the entire community is harmed, but the harm falls disproportionately on marginalized and disadvantaged members of our community who are more likely to be affected and less likely to have access to health care and other services.”

Pursuant to the terms of the Plea Agreement, Mischenko faces up to two years in federal prison for failing to notify EPA and SRCAA prior to undertaking the asbestos work, and must make full restitution to all victims in an amount to be determined at sentencing.

“I commend the wonderful work by the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency in uncovering this dangerous situation and quickly working to address it, as well as the stellar investigative work by EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division,” added Assistant United States Attorney Dan Fruchter, the District’s Environmental Crimes Coordinator. “We will continue to work with our state and federal law enforcement partners to protect public health and our precious natural resources.”

U.S. Attorney Vanessa Waldref encourages residents to contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office at (590) 835-6306 or by email at when also contacting local, state, or federal agency hotlines or websites to report environmental, health and safety concerns. Air quality violations can be reported to the EPA at:


Richard Barker 
Assistant United States Attorney and Public Affairs Officer
509-835-6311 or

Updated October 28, 2022

Press Release Number: 2:20-CR-00175-RMP