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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 23, 2018

Grand Island Man, Company Sentenced For Violations Of Clean Air Act Involving Asbestos

CONTACT:  Barbara Burns
PHONE:         (716) 843-5817
FAX #:            (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Raj Chopra, 54, of Grand Island, NY, who was convicted of accessory after the fact to a false statement under the Clean Air Act, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara to one year probation. Chopra’s company, Comprehensive Employee Management, (CEM), located on Grand Island, was convicted of making a false statement under the Clean Air Act and also sentenced to one year probation. CEM was also ordered to pay a $25,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango, who handled the case, stated that CEM, an environmental consulting company located at 1815 Love Road on Grand Island, provided consulting services to co-defendant Sean Doctor and his asbestos abatement company, S.D. Specialty Services, LLC. Pursuant to federal regulations, all owners or operators of an asbestos abatement project regulated under the Clean Air Act, must maintain a waste shipment manifest to include the name of the owner/operator; the name of the generator; and the date the asbestos was transported. The information enables the Environmental Protection Agency, which enforces the Clean Air Act and associated regulations, properly and timely to investigate suspected violations of the Clean Air Act. 

From December 2009 to January 2010, employees of S.D. Specialty performed asbestos abatement work at the Roosevelt Park Shelter in Buffalo, which was subject to regulations of the Clean Air Act. During the project, S.D. Specialty employees removed asbestos from the Roosevelt Park Shelter and transported the material to a waste container at CEM on Grand Island.

On March 11, 2010, defendants Doctor and CEM executed an asbestos waste manifest which falsely indicated that asbestos had been transported to CEM from the Roosevelt Park Shelter on that date.  In truth and in fact, such asbestos had been transported to, and stored at, the Grand Island location prior to March 11, 2010. As such false statement was included in the shipping manifest created when a local waste disposal company retrieved the waste container at CEM on March 11, 2010, such false statement became part of a record required to be maintained under the Clean Air Act.

In addition, on April 28, 2011, an inspection of the Roosevelt Park Shelter revealed asbestos was improperly left behind by employees of S.D. Specialty.

Sean Doctor was previously convicted and sentenced to one year probation and fined $2,000.

Today’s sentencings are the result 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 Tyler Amon; and Investigators of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Police, BECI, under the direction of Captain John Burke. Additional assistance was provided by the New York State Department of Labor, Asbestos Control Bureau.  

Updated March 26, 2018