Boston-Based Real Estate Company, President to Pay $200,000 for Illegal Asbestos Removal and Disposal
Defendants plead guilty to tax, payroll, unemployment insurance, and environmental charges
The pleas are the result of an investigation by the Massachusetts Environmental Crimes Strike Force (ECSF), an interagency unit which is overseen by AG Coakley, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (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 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.
Following the changes of plea, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Regina Quinlan ordered McGrail, age 44, of Boston and JM Realty collectively to pay $200,000 in fines and sentenced the defendants to three years probation under the condition that they not violate applicable federal, state or local laws including those governing protection of the environment, unemployment insurance, withholding taxes, and fair labor practices. The defendants must also provide all employees involved with the development of real estate with asbestos awareness training and retain the services of an independent auditor to review the actions of the defendants and associated companies to ensure their compliance with environmental and labor laws.
McGrail, age 44 of Boston, pled guilty to charges of violating the Massachusetts Clean Air Act for failure to file notices of asbestos removal with the MassDEP and failure to comply with procedures for asbestos emissions control. McGrail also pled guilty to charges of evasion of unemployment insurance (4 counts) and failure to provide pay records (4 counts).
JM Realty pled guilty to charges of violating the Massachusetts Clean Air Act for failure to file notices of asbestos removal with the MassDEP (2 counts), failure to comply with procedures for asbestos emissions control (2 counts), and improper disposal of asbestos waste. JM Realty also pled guilty to charges of evasion of unemployment insurance (4 counts) and failure to provide pay records (4 counts), and failure to withhold income tax (4 counts).
For three years between 2005 and 2007, McGrail, the principal of JM Realty and the founder of a group of businesses known as the Mayo Group, instructed his employees to perform demolition and renovation services at three different Mayo Group properties in Lynn, Boston, and Worcester, that had asbestos containing materials and other building components, according to former Mayo Group employees. Those employees informed the Attorney General's Office that asbestos containing materials were transferred to a warehouse in South Boston, and thereafter asbestos debris was distributed in dumpsters at various Mayo Group properties around Boston for regular trash disposal. None of these locations were permitted for the disposal of asbestos waste.
McGrail and JM Realty violated the Massachusetts Clean Air Act by failing to notify MassDEP of asbestos demolition, failing to follow mandated asbestos removal procedures during the demolition and renovation, and improperly disposing of asbestos waste. During the time this work was going on, McGrail's employees paid workers, failed to withhold taxes, make unemployment insurance contributions, or provide pay stubs for the workers.
A Suffolk County Grand Jury returned indictments against JM Realty and McGrail on March 25, 2010. McGrail was arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court on April 2, 2010, at which time he entered a plea of not guilty and was released on personal recognizance. JM Realty was arraigned on May 11, 2010, in Suffolk Superior Court at which time a plea of not guilty was entered. McGrail and JM Realty pled guilty on March 23, 2011, and were sentenced.
WORCESTER COMMONS, LLC
Worcester Commons, LLC, a company owned by McGrail, also pled guilty to charges of violating the Clean Air Act for failure to file notices of asbestos removal with the MassDEP (2 counts), failure to comply with procedures for asbestos emissions control (2 counts), and improper disposal of asbestos waste (1 count).
In February 2007, MassDEP employees observed demolition debris being thrown out of a window at Worcester Commons, a property owned by Worcester Commons, LLC, a limited liability company owned by the Mayo Group. A subsequent inspection conducted by authorities resulted in the discovery of impacted asbestos containing material within the building and in a waste pile and disposal trailer on the property's premises. Asbestos from the site was scheduled for disposal at a landfill that was not a designated site for the disposal of asbestos waste.
MassDEP issued a cease and desist order in the spring of 2007, following an inspection that found impacted asbestos containing material on the second floor of the building, and subsequently found that unauthorized asbestos removal continued in other parts of the 10-story building where residents continued to reside, posing a risk to both residents and the workers involved.
Worcester Commons, LLC violated the Massachusetts Clean Air Act by failing to notify MassDEP of asbestos demolition, failing to follow mandated asbestos removal procedures during the demolition and renovation, and improperly disposing of asbestos waste.
A Worcester County Grand Jury returned indictments against the Worcester Commons, LLC, on January 23, 2009. Worcester Commons, LLC was arraigned in Worcester Superior Court on February 23, 2009, at which time it entered a plea of not guilty. Worcester Commons, LLC pled guilty on March 23, 2011, and was placed on pre-trial probation.
Assistant Attorneys General Andrew Rainer, Jesse Siegel, Wendoly Langlois, and Brendan O'Shea of AG Coakley's Environmental Crimes Strike Force, prosecuted this case with the involvement of Massachusetts Environmental Police and Don Heeley, Gregory Levins, and Mary Jude Pigsley from the MassDEP Central Regional Office and John MacAuley, Ken Atkinson and Karen Golden Smith from the MassDEP Northeast Regional Office.