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Press Release

Pennsylvania Man Pleads Guilty To Clean Air Act Violation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG - The Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that on March 9, 2022, Ty Allen Barnett, of Dover, Pennsylvania, entered a plea of guilty to the improper handling and removing of regulated asbestos containing material as required by federal law.

A ten-count indictment filed in January 2020, charged Lobar Inc., First Capital Insulation, Inc., Francis Richard Yingling, Jr., Dennis Lee Charles Jr., M&J Excavation Inc., John August Sidari, Jr., and Ty Allen Barnett, with various violations of the federal Clean Air Act arising from disturbing and removing asbestos in violation of the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants regulations. Lobar, Inc. pleaded guilty on Feb. 9, 2022. The remaining defendants have pleaded not guilty and are currently scheduled for trial in June 2022 before U.S. District Court Judge Jennifer P. Wilson.

Asbestos was designated a hazardous air pollutant in 1971 which can become airborne and can be inhaled into the lungs. There is no known safe amount of exposure.

According to U.S. Attorney John C. Gurganus, the criminal charge is the result of Barnett’s activity as the project supervisor for the asbestos abatement contractor, First Capital Insulation Inc., on the Berwick Area School District project in Berwick, Pennsylvania. The scope of the project was designed to safely remove environmentally hazardous materials from the site, demolish the former weaving mill building, and construct a new elementary school.

Prior to purchasing the mill in January 2014, the Berwick Area School District obtained an environmental assessment report that identified hazardous substances, including asbestos, located in the old facility. The existence of asbestos was confirmed by an environmental consultant. The findings of both assessments were shared with Lobar, and its subcontractors responsible for asbestos removal and demolition. Despite this, the demolition went forward before the asbestos was properly removed until stopped by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

“Exposure to airborne asbestos fibers can pose a serious health risk to workers and members of the public,” said EPA Special Agent in Charge Jennifer Lynn. “The defendant knowingly failed to follow the required safety practices when working with asbestos containing materials, potentially endangering the health of workers and the public.”

Howard P. Stewart, Senior Litigation Counsel from the Environmental Crimes Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice, Assistant United States Paul Miovas and Special Assistant United States Attorney Patricia Miller of the Middle District of Pennsylvania are prosecuting the case. The case was investigated by the Criminal Investigation Division of the EPA.

A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Updated March 11, 2022