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Press Release

Cleveland man sentenced to nearly three years in prison for illegal demolition of former factory

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Ohio

A Cleveland man was sentenced to nearly three years in prison for violating the Clean Air Act by failing to remove asbestos prior to demolishing a former factory in Cleveland, law enforcement officials said.

William S. Jackson, 47, was sentenced to 33 months in prison and ordered to pay $7.8 million in restitution by U.S. Senior District Judge Donald C. Nugent.

Christopher Gattarello leased the former National Acme facility at 170 East 131st Street in Cleveland in June 2011. The 570,000 square-foot facility was built in 1917 and was used for manufacturing for nearly a century. It is located near many homes and a school. Gattarello represented to the lessor that paper and cardboard waste would be recycled at the facility.

In July 2011, a company estimated removing asbestos from the facility would cost $1.5 million.

Around August 2011, Gattarello directed paper and cardboard waste, as well as municipal garbage, be delivered to the facility for recycling. Over the next several months, more garbage, paper and cardboard were delivered than could be handled, and Gattarello had the waste moved inside. By April 2012, most of the facility was filled with garbage.

Gattarello entered into a contract to purchase the facility in 2012. Gattarello intended to demolish the facility and sell any metal removed as scrap.

Jackson operated a Cleveland building demolition company. In July 2012, he submitted a notice of demolition with the Cleveland Division of Air Quality stating there was no asbestos in the National Acme facility. About 10 days later, the CDAQ rejected Jackson’s notice because it was incomplete and stated demolition “may not begin” until a proper notice was submitted and approved. About 10 days after that, on July 21, 2012, Jackson began demolition at Gattarello’s direction.

Asbestos fibers were released into the environment during demolition. Debris accumulated outside the facility from demolition and asbestos in the piles were exposed to the wind and elements.

Gattarello was sentenced to nearly five years in prison for his crimes earlier this year.

“This defendant knowingly ignored regulations designed to protect the public’s health and safety,” U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman said. “He and his co-defendants caused irreparable harm to a Cleveland neighborhood.”

“The defendants in this case put unsuspecting workers at great risk and threatened the health and safety of the community when they failed to follow proper procedures for removing asbestos,” said Scot Adair, Acting Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Ohio. “This case demonstrates that EPA and its law enforcement partners will prosecute those who willingly break environmental laws in an attempt to cut costs.”

“It is both illegal and inexcusable to dump thousands of tons of garbage near a residential neighborhood,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. “Residents were subjected to environmental and health hazards and deserve to see those accountable brought to justice.”

“Let these sentencings stand as a warning to those who victimize the public that whether you are the main perpetrator of a fraud, or merely assist in its facilitation, the law will hold all guilty parties accountable,” said Ryan L. Korner, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office. “The successful prosecution of these individuals is a direct result of the excellent partnership that federal, state and kocal law enforcement has in combating violations of federal law."

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brad Beeson and Chelsea Rice following an investigation by the U.S. and Ohio Environmental Protection Agencies, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service.



Mike Tobin

Updated September 21, 2017