Lynnfield Company, Owners and Employee Indicted on Illegal Asbestos Removal and Disposal Charges
Defendants also charged with unemployment fraud and other violations
AEI Environmental, LLC (AEI), David Harder, Jr., age 47, and Julie Rosati, age 51, of Lynnfield, were each indicted on charges of violating the Massachusetts Clean Air Act (12 counts), violating the Massachusetts Solid Waste Act (2 counts), and Evasion of Unemployment Insurance (4 counts). Harder and Luiz Dias, age 43, of Pelham, New Hampshire, were also indicted on charges of Filing False Statements for the Protection of the Environment, and Conspiracy to File False Environmental reports. Rosati was also charged with Filing False Statements for the Protection of the Environment.
"Asbestos is a hazardous material that must be properly removed and reported to ensure the public's safety," AG Coakley said. "It is extremely important that companies and individuals adhere to the guidelines for reporting, removing, and disposing of asbestos. Our office is committed to upholding the law to protect people from being exposed to this dangerous toxin."
"MassDEP is committed to protecting human health and the environment, and maintaining a level playing field for those engaged in regulated activities like asbestos abatement," said MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth L. Kimmell. "The clear message is that the Massachusetts Environmental Strike Force is ready to fully investigate and prosecute those who endanger public heath in order to save money."
The indictments are the result of an investigation by the Massachusetts Environmental Crimes Strike Force (ECSF), 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 ECSF 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 which 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 September 2010, the ECSF received information that AEI and its owners, Harder and Rosati, were illegally storing bags of asbestos at a self-storage facility in Lynnfield. Further investigation of the facility found hundreds of bags containing asbestos debris from work allegedly performed by the company. Under the Clean Air Act, the storage units were not a permissible location for the storage of asbestos debris.
Authorities allege that Harder, Rosati, AEI, and Dias, an employee of AEI, engaged in the illegal and improper removal of asbestos at numerous locations in Lynn, Beverly and Marblehead, including several public buildings and schools, as well as other locations in Massachusetts, without properly notifying MassDEP. The removal of asbestos must be performed by a licensed contractor pursuant to MassDEP regulations with notification as to when the removal will occur. According to authorities, during the relevant time period the defendants were not licensed to perform asbestos removal. While contracted for asbestos removal services, Harder would allegedly convince other contractors working on location to file the asbestos notification with MassDEP, indicating that removal would be performed by another entity.
Harder, Rosati, and Dias also allegedly falsified documents that are used by MassDEP to ensure that asbestos work is performed safely. Authorities further allege that while engaged in asbestos removal the defendants failed to adhere to proper procedure for asbestos abatement.
Further investigation of AEI and the defendants by the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development's Division of Unemployment Assistance (EOLWD\DUA) found that Harder and Rosati allegedly failed to make any unemployment insurance contributions for their employees.
An Essex County Grand Jury returned indictments against AEI Environmental, Harder, Jr., Rosati, and Dias on March 18, 2011. The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned in Essex Superior Court on April 4, 2011.
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 Attorneys General Andrew Rainer and Jesse Siegel with assistance from MassDEP's Environmental Strike Force director Pamela Talbot. ECSF officials involved in this investigation include Environmental Police Officers and MassDEP officials John MacAuley, Stephen Spencer, and Richard Tomczyk. Lynnfield Police also assisted in the investigation.