For Immediate Release - April 15, 2011

Methuen-Based Developer Arraigned for the Illegal Removal and Disposal of Asbestos From Lawrence Residence

SALEM - A Methuen-based developer has been arraigned for the improper removal and disposal of asbestos for work performed on a multi-family residence in Lawrence, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

Robert A. Norcross, age 51, was arraigned on charges of violating the Massachusetts Clean Air Act (3 counts), for failure to file notices of asbestos removal with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), improper removal of asbestos-containing material, and improper disposal of asbestos waste. The asbestos containing material was pipe insulation removed and disposed of from a property owned in trust by Norcross in Lawrence.

The charges are the result of an investigation by the Massachusetts Environmental Strike Force, an interagency unit which is overseen by AG Coakley, MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth L. Kimmell, and Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan, Jr. The Strike Force comprises prosecutors from the Attorney General's Office, Environmental Police Officers assigned to the Attorney General's Office, and investigators and engineers from the MassDEP who investigate and prosecute crimes that harm or threaten the state's water, air, or land and that pose a significant threat to human health.

According to authorities, in May 2010, the Strike Force received information that Norcross had ordered the improper removal of asbestos containing insulation from the multi-family apartment building he owns in Lawrence. Authorities allege that Norcross engaged workers in the removal process without the notification to MassDEP. Further investigation revealed that the insulation had been removed by untrained workers in an area of property used by tenants to wash laundry.

According to authorities, the workers failed to do the work in a properly contained space to prevent the release of asbestos fibers within the building, and did not adhere to air filtering or other protective measures while removing the asbestos containing materials. Pursuant to MassDEP regulations, the removal of asbestos must be performed by a licensed contractor with notification as to when the removal will occur and requires certain methods and standards for the safe removal, storage, and disposal of the asbestos throughout the abatement process.

Authorities allege that after the removal process had taken place, the workers transported bags of asbestos containing material and debris to an unlicensed facility in New Hampshire for disposal.

An Essex County Grand Jury returned indictments against Norcross on March 25. Norcross was arraigned yesterday in Essex Superior Court at which time he entered a plea of not guilty and was released on personal recognizance. Norcross will be in court on June 2, for a pre-trial conference. Essex Superior Court Judge Timothy Feeley presided over the arraignment.

Members of the public who have information regarding a potential environmental crime are encouraged to contact the MassDEP Environmental Strike Force Hotline at 1-888-VIOLATE (846-5283) or the Attorney General's Office at 617-727-2200.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Michael Gilbert with assistance from Massachusetts Environmental Police and MassDEP counsel Colleen McConnell, and Karen Golden-Smith, John MacAuley and Joseph Paparella.