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Press Release

Maintenance Supervisor At State Facility In The Finger Lakes Pleads Guilty To Violating The Clean Air Act

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

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

BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that James S. Marshall, 68, of Farmington, NY, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Charles J. Siragusa to negligent endangerment under the Clean Air Act. The charge carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $125,000 fine. 

“The very essence of the Clean Air Act is to protect people from dangerous, and potentially deadly, hazardous air pollutants,” stated U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “As maintenance supervisor for the property owner where work was being done, the defendant had an obligation to look out for the safety of the hired contractors. Unfortunately, his failure to do what he should have, put their health at risk.”  

“Defendant Marshall’s negligence was not without consequence,” said Tyler Amon, Special Agent-in-Charge of the EPA's Criminal Investigation Division in New York. “Following his failure to properly identify regulated asbestos containing material, he continued to place workers at risk of being exposed to asbestos.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango, who is handling the case, stated that the defendant was a Maintenance Supervisor with the Finger Lakes Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), Developmental Disabilities Services Office. As part of his duties, Marshall was involved in the cleanout of the Hillcrest Building, a building owned by OPWDD and located on E. Maple Avenue in Newark, NY. In November 2014, the OPWDD solicited public bids for the cleanout of the Hillcrest building, and in December 2014, a third-party contractor was awarded the contract. The defendant was not involved in the awarding of the bid, nor was Marshall involved with the approval of contract documents.

In April 2015, during the cleanout of the Hillcrest Building, asbestos was released into the ambient air, which negligently placed other individuals in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury. On April 9, 2015, the defendant responded to the Hillcrest Building and told the workers that a licensed third-party testing company had conducted the sampling at the Hillcrest Building and that such sampling yielded negative results for asbestos. However, based on Marshall’s prior experience with the Hillcrest building, and other buildings on the Newark campus, he should have been aware of the possibility of asbestos-containing material throughout the Hillcrest building. Following the defendant’s conversation with the workers, some of the workers chose to continue to work in the building on April 9 and 10, 2015, and during such work, asbestos was released into the ambient air. Marshall failed to take any further measures to protect the health of the work crew.

The plea is the result of an investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Tyler Amon. Additional assistance was also provided by the New York State Department of Labor, Asbestos Control Bureau.

Sentencing is scheduled for May 10, 2021, before Judge Siragusa.

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Updated February 10, 2021