Jury Verdict: Lawrence Developer Violated Asbestos Disposal Laws
TOPEKA, KAN. – A jury today found a Lawrence developer guilty on charges of disposing of asbestos in violation of the Clean Air Act.
Thomas S. Fritzel, 53, Lawrence, Kan., was convicted on the following counts:
- Failing to notify authorities before removing asbestos (count two).
- Failing to keep asbestos wet during demolition to prevent air contamination (count three).
- Failing to dispose of asbestos in leak-tight containers (count four).
During trial, the government presented evidence that Fritzel violated federal laws for handling asbestos during demolition and renovations at the Alvamar Country Club in Lawrence. The government presented evidence to show that Fritzel knew that the roof of the country club contained 75 percent chrysotile asbestos. The previous owners, who sold the club to Fritzel in January 2016, had decided not to replace the roof because of the cost of abating the asbestos.
On October 19, 2016, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment told Fritzel to get a licensed asbestos contractor to remove asbestos from the site and dispose of it properly. On Oct. 25, 2016, KDHE inspected the site and determined asbestos debris had been removed and hauled to Hamm Landfill in Perry, Kan., which is not approved for asbestos disposal.
Sentencing will be set for a later date. He faces a penalty of up to two years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 on count two and up to five years and a fine up to $250,000 on counts three and four. First Assistant U.S. Attorney Duston Slinkard commended the Environmental Protection Agency – Criminal Investigation Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Hathaway for their work on the case.