For Immediate Release - December 20, 2010

Worcester Area Property Owner Indicted on Child Endangerment and Other Charges for Allegedly Failing to Comply with Lead Paint Laws

WORCESTER - A Worcester area property owner has been indicted for fraudulently claiming his property was in compliance with lead laws and endangering children, announced Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Jaroslaw Pianka, age 40, of Charlton, was indicted on charges of Child Endangerment, Larceny by False Pretenses, and Uttering (2 counts).

"Exposure to lead can be extremely dangerous to young children," AG Coakley said. "We allege that Mr. Pianka used fake documentation to falsely assert that his properties were properly deleaded, thereby endangering the health and lives of his tenants."

"Despite major progress in reducing childhood lead poisoning in Massachusetts, continued screening of children and inspection of properties is still necessary. Lead paint in homes remains the most significant concern associated with exposure," said Department of Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach. "This case highlights the efficacy of Massachusetts laws involving coordination and collaboration between local health departments, DPH, and the Attorney General as part of our system of protecting children."

Authorities allege that Pianka, the owner of two properties located on Dale Court in Leicester, failed to comply with lead laws by submitting fraudulent certificates of lead compliance and representing that his properties had been properly deleaded.

According to authorities, a family with two children under the age of six rented one of the Dale Court properties from Pianka under the verbal assertion that the property had been deleaded in February 2007. Massachusetts Law requires owners of properties containing dangerous levels of lead to abate or contain lead whenever a child under six years of age resides in the property. According to authorities, the family subsequently performed a home lead test which revealed lead in the property, and contacted the Leicester Board of Health (Board of Health) to request a lead determination in March 2009.

Further inspection of the property by the Board of Health found several areas that tested positive for lead and the Board of Health issued an order to Pianka to correct the lead in the property in April 2009. Following the order, in April 2009, Pianka provided the family with a copy of a letter of full deleading compliance and the Massachusetts Tenant Lead Law Notification and Certification Form, which is required by law to be provided by landlords to tenants prior to renting properties built before 1978. Pianka also provided the letter of full deleading compliance to the Board of Health. According to authorities, a review of the letter conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's Child Lead Poisoning Prevention Program determined the documentation to be fraudulent.

Pianka was also cited for lead paint compliance at a second property located on Dale Court in Leicester, after the Board of Health learned of additional alleged violations. In March 2009, the Board of Health issued an order to Pianka to correct lead in the second property. In response to the order, Pianka submitted a letter of full deleading compliance. Further investigation of the letter with the Licensed Lead Inspector Database of the Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services determined that neither the name of the inspector nor license number of the inspector listed on the letter existed.

A Worcester County Grand Jury returned indictments against Pianka on December 17, 2010. Pianka will be arraigned in Worcester Superior Court on a later date.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Andrew Rainer and Julie Ross of AG Coakley's Environmental Crimes Strike Force with assistance from Shannon Legrice and Ashley Cinelli of the Victim Witness Services Division. Department of Public Health officials were also involved in this investigation.

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