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Press Release

Former New York State Inspector Sentenced for Negligent Dangerment Under the Clean Air Act

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

BUFFALO, N.Y. – U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul announced today that Theodore Lehmann, 67, Buffalo, NY, who was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of negligent endangerment under the Clean Air Act, was sentenced to one year probation by U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Arcara.

“Today’s sentencing brings to an end the government’s investigation into this community health hazard,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “But let this case also serve as a warning to any other companies or individuals who deliberately harm our community or environment. Our Office stands ready to protect the public through vigorous enforcement of federal law.”

Assistant U. S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango, who is handling the case, stated that the defendant was employed by JMD Environmental, Inc. (JMD) as an air sampling technician and a project monitor, and was certified by the New York State Department of Health to conduct asbestos project monitor and air sampling duties. From June 9, 2009 to January 11, 2010, co-defendants Johnson Contracting of WNY, Inc. (Johnson Contracting), Ernest Johnson, and Rai Johnson, conducted asbestos abatement activities at six buildings at the Kensington Towers Apartment Complex in Buffalo. During the abatement process, co-defendant Rai Johnson created daily project logs to document the progress at Kensington Towers. The logs are documents required to be maintained under the Clean Air Act.

At the conclusion of the abatement for building B-2 by Johnson Contracting, Rai Johnson wrote in his daily project log that all material containing asbestos had been removed from the boiler room, when in truth, all asbestos had not been removed. Thereafter, on August 25, 2009, the defendant conducted a visual inspection of the boiler room at building B-2 and issued a satisfactory visual inspection, when in truth, the defendant was aware that all asbestos had not been removed. In doing so, the defendant acted as an accessory after the fact to the false statement made by the Johnson defendants.

This is the final defendant to be sentenced as part of the Kensington Towers asbestos abatement project. In addition to Ernest and Rai Johnson, other defendants who have been convicted include JMD project monitors Evan Harnden and Brian Scott; and current and former public officials responsible for certifying the project’s compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including Donald Grzebielucha and William Manuszewski.                  

The sentencing is the culmination of an investigation on the part of Special Agents of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Criminal Investigation Division, under the direction of Special Agent-In-Charge, Vernesa Jones-Allen; Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Special Agents of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development - Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent-In-Charge Christina D. Scaringi; and Investigators of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Police, BECI, under the direction of Captain Frank Lauricella.  Additional assistance was provided by the New York State Department of Labor, Asbestos Control Bureau.
Updated November 19, 2014