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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Iowa

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 18, 2014

Downtown Sioux City Developer Pleads Guilty To Violation Of Clean Air Act

A man who purchased the old YMCA building in 2009, learned it contained asbestos, and knowingly mishandled the asbestos during the demolition and renovation of the building pled guilty on December 17, 2014, in federal court in Sioux City.

Larry Wolf, age 54 from Dakota City, Nebraska, was convicted of one count of violating the work practice standards of the Clean Air Act by failing to thoroughly inspect the old YMCA (which he knew contained some asbestos) to ascertain the amount of asbestos, and whether that amount was sufficient to subject the demolition project to regulation.

At the plea hearing, Wolf admitted he learned the building contained asbestos and regulated asbestos-containing material when he, within six months of his purchase of the building in the summer of 2009, was told the building contained asbestos and regulated asbestos-containing material by the building's former custodian (who actually showed Wolf around the building while telling him about the asbestos). Wolf also admitted that on or about September 21, 2010, representatives of an environmental remediation and demolition firm provided him with an asbestos abatement estimate of $171, 792.00 for asbestos removal and related activities.

 Wolf also admitted that despite knowing the old YMCA contained asbestos and regulated asbestos-containing material, from about July 1, 2009, until about March 31, 2011, Wolf himself, and others at his direction, violated the Clean Air Act Work-Practice Standards by demolishing, renovating, removing, disposing of and/or disturbing asbestos and regulated asbestos-containing material from the old YMCA. For example, during the above-referenced time period, defendant Larry Wolf sold copper, brass, aluminum, and other metals from the old YMCA after he had removed regulated asbestos-containing material wrappings from the metals.  Defendant Larry Wolf boasted he made $80,000.00 or more from the old YMCA this way. 

 In addition Wolf admitted that in the summer of 2010, when asked by one of his employees if the building was safe to work in, he said the building had been abated for asbestos, when he knew it had not been abated for asbestos.

Sentencing before United States District Court Judge Mark W. Bennett will be set after a presentence report is prepared.  Wolf remains free on bond previously set; pending sentencing.  Wolf faces a possible maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, $100 in special assessments, and up to 3 years of supervised release following any imprisonment.

The case was investigated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Forde Fairchild. 

Court file information is available at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.  The case file number is 14-4055.
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Updated February 19, 2015