For Immediate Release - March 11, 2010

Property Management Firm and Contractor Indicted on Illegal Asbestos Removal Charges

WORCESTER - Today, a Worcester County Grand Jury returned indictments against a Worcester contractor and the property management firm that hired him for their alleged involvement in the illegal removal of asbestos from a building in downtown Worcester. Jonathan Gabriel, age 45, of Northborough, of Hammertime Construction, and 240 Main Street Properties, Inc., the manager of the property at 240 Main Street, Worcester, were indicted on charges of violating the Clean Air Act by failing to file notices of asbestos removal with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), and improper disposal of asbestos waste.

The indictments stem from an investigation by the Massachusetts Environmental Crimes Strike Force (ECSF), an interagency unit that includes prosecutors from the Attorney General's Office, Environmental Police Officers assigned to the Attorney General's Office, and investigators and engineers from the MassDEP. Authorities allege that 240 Main Street Properties, Inc. hired Gabriel to gut the interior of its building, which is located across the street from Worcester Superior Court. Authorities allege that the work began in the fall of 2007 and during construction asbestos was illegally removed from the building. Investigators also allege that the windows of the building were left open during construction, risking a release to the public of asbestos fibers, a known carcinogen.

MassDEP inspected the property in August 2008, immediately after being informed of the demolition work there, and issued a stop work order shortly after those inspections were conducted. 240 Main Street Properties, Inc. thereafter retained licensed asbestos contractors to remove the asbestos found in the property.

Authorities further allege that Gabriel, the contractor hired to perform the work, and 240 Main Street Properties, Inc., the property manager, violated the Massachusetts Clean Air Act by failing to notify MassDEP of asbestos demolition, and by failing to follow mandated asbestos removal procedures during the demolition and renovation, such as containment of the removal site, wetting down of materials removed, and testing the air after the removal. Under the Clean Air Act, owners and operators of demolition and/or renovations projects involving asbestos containing material are required to provide MassDEP with ten days notice of the work to be performed and a description of the proposed operation that includes the estimated amount of asbestos involved, the name of the environmental company hired to properly remove the asbestos, and the name of the disposal facility they intend to use. Authorities allege that no such notification was made.

This case was investigated by the Massachusetts Environmental Crimes Strike Force (ECSF), which is overseen by Attorney General Martha Coakley, MassDEP Commissioner Laurie Burt and Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian A. Bowles. The ECSF investigates and prosecutes crimes that harm or threaten the state's water, air, or land and that pose a significant threat to human health.

The indictments were returned today. The defendants will be summonsed for arraignment in Worcester Superior Court at a later date.

Assistant Attorney General Andrew Rainer, Chief of Attorney General Coakley's Environmental Crimes Strike Force, is prosecuting the case. Investigators Greg Levins and Don Heeley of MassDEP's Central Regional Office in Worcester joined with the Massachusetts Environmental Police to conduct the investigation into this case.