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Press Release

Former New Windsor Town Official And Contractor Plead Guilty To Negligent Release Of Asbestos

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York,  announced that JAMES PETRO, the former Planning and Zoning Coordinator and Property Development Manager for the Town of New Windsor, and RICHARD MCGOEY, the former Town Engineer by contract for the Town of New Windsor, each pled guilty today to one count of negligently causing the releasing of asbestos into the ambient air, thereby negligently placing other persons in imminent danger of death and serious bodily injury.  PETRO and MCGOEY pled guilty before United States Magistrate Judge Judith C. McCarthy in White Plains federal court.

U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:  “As they admitted in court today, James Petro and Richard McGoey decided to cut corners and do things on the cheap, soliciting bids for demolition work without disclosing that the property contained asbestos.  The contract was awarded to a contractor unqualified to do asbestos abatement work, and as a result Petro and McGoey jeopardized the health and safety of the people they had a responsibility to protect.”

According to the allegations in the Informations to which PETRO and MCGOEY pled guilty and other court documents:

In or about 1999, the Town of New Windsor (the “Town”) acquired 250 acres adjacent to Stewart Airport from the Department of the Army.  The property contained dozens of military barracks and other buildings that the Army had constructed in or about the 1940’s, when the property was part of an Army Air Force base.  These buildings included 10 buildings contained on the parcel of land bordered by International Boulevard to the south, Reed Street to the north, Aviation Avenue to the east and Raz Avenue to the west (the “10 Buildings”).  The 10 Buildings contained asbestos.           

After it acquired the 250 acres, the Town entered into an agreement with a real estate developer (the “Developer”) pursuant to which the Developer would lease the land and develop it.  From in or about 2006 through in or about 2009, the Town applied for various government grants to abate the asbestos in some of the buildings on the 250 acres and to demolish those buildings.  PETRO and MCGOEY participated with others in preparing and submitting the grant applications.

In or about May 2008, the Developer obtained a report from an asbestos inspector that indicated the 10 Buildings had asbestos-containing material.  The report stated that any disturbance or abatement of the asbestos was required to be performed by a licensed contractor in accordance with federal and state regulations.  PETRO and MCGOEY knew of the existence of this report prior to August 2015.

In or about June 2012, PETRO, MCGOEY, and others discussed the need to prepare a written request for bids to abate the asbestos in, and demolish, the 10 Buildings.  The Town initially requested bids from asbestos inspectors to conduct asbestos surveys of the 10 Buildings.  PETRO, MCGOEY, and others decided asbestos surveys were unnecessary because the 10 Buildings had already been surveyed in May 2008.

From May 2015 to June 2015, PETRO, MCGOEY, and others drafted a request for proposals to demolish the 10 Buildings.  This request for proposals did not disclose the presence of asbestos containing materials in the 10 Buildings but said only that the demolition materials were to be disposed of in accordance with all federal, state, and local regulations.  The Town published this request for proposals on or about June 5, 2015.

In July 2015, the Town awarded the contract to demolish the 10 Buildings to Contractor-1, who had submitted the lowest bid of $262,000.  Contractor-1 was not a licensed asbestos contractor and had limited experience with asbestos.  Although Contractor-1 did not submit a plan to abate the asbestos in the 10 Buildings or an asbestos clearance letter to the Town, the Town gave Contractor-1 permits to demolish the 10 Buildings.

From August 11, 2015 through August 16, 2015, Contractor-1 and his crew demolished the 10 Buildings without removing the asbestos contained therein by knocking the buildings down with a backhoe, thereby releasing the asbestos to the open air.  During this period, both PETRO and MCGOEY visited the site while the buildings were being knocked down.  On August 19, 2015, an official with the Asbestos Control Bureau of the New York State Department of Labor suspended work on removing the debris piles resulting from the demolition of the 10 Buildings.

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PETRO, 68, of New Windsor, New York, and MCGOEY, 71, of Monticello, New York, each pled guilty to one count of negligently causing the release of asbestos into the ambient air, thereby negligently placing other persons in imminent danger of death and serious bodily injury.  This offense carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of PETRO and MCGOEY will be determined by a judge.  The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge McCarthy on May 27, 2021.

Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Special Agents of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division.  Assistant United States Attorneys Margery Feinzig and James McMahon are in charge of the prosecution.


James Margolin, Nicholas Biase
(212) 637-2600

Updated February 18, 2021

Public Corruption
Press Release Number: 21-032