Owners of Lynnfield Company Plead Guilty, Sentenced in Connection With Illegal Asbestos Removal and Disposal
SALEM — The owners of a Lynnfield asbestos removal company have pleaded guilty and been sentenced in connection with the improper removal and disposal of asbestos for work performed on numerous public and private buildings in the communities of Lynn, Beverly, and Marblehead, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
“Asbestos is a hazardous material that must be properly removed and reported to ensure the public’s safety,” AG Coakley said. “These individuals disregarded the laws around asbestos removal and put people at risk of being exposed to this dangerous toxin.”
“The Environmental Strike Force works hand-in-hand with our asbestos enforcement staff and with our partners at the Attorney General’s Office to ensure that those who skirt the asbestos laws are brought to justice,” said Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). “We will continue to target and develop investigations that seek to protect the environment and the public health, and result in serious penalties for those who fail to do the right thing.”
David Harder, Jr., age 48, and Julie Rosati, age 52, of Lynnfield, each pleaded guilty in Essex Superior Court on charges of violating the Massachusetts Clean Air Act (12 counts), violating the Massachusetts Solid Waste Act (2 counts), and Evasion of Unemployment Insurance (3 counts). Rosati also pleaded guilty to Filing False Statements for the Protection of the Environment (1 count).
Harder pleaded guilty last Tuesday, July 17, in Essex Superior Court. After his plea was entered, Essex Superior Court Judge John Lu sentenced Harder to 30 days in the House of Correction, with three years of probation upon his release. Rosati pleaded guilty on Friday, July 20, in Essex Superior Court. Essex Superior Court Judge David Lowy sentenced Rosati to three years of probation. Both Harder and Rosati were barred from working in environmental remediation during their probation, either independently or for any company that does environmental remediation.
The pleas are the result of an investigation by the Massachusetts Environmental Strike Force, an interagency unit which is overseen by AG Coakley, MassDEP Commissioner 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 which investigate and prosecute crimes that harm or threaten the state’s water, air, or land and pose a significant threat to human health.
In September 2010, the Strike Force received information that Harder and Rosati, owners of AEI Environmental, LLC (AEI), 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 performed by the company. Under the Solid Waste Act, the storage units were not a permissible location for the storage of asbestos debris.
Harder and Rosati 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. During the relevant time period the defendants were not licensed to perform asbestos removal. While contracted for asbestos removal services, the defendants convinced other contractors working on location to file the asbestos notifications with MassDEP, indicating that removal would be performed by another entity.
While engaged in asbestos removal, the defendants failed to adhere to proper procedure for asbestos abatement. Rosati also falsified documents that are used by MassDEP to ensure that asbestos work is performed safely.
Further investigation of AEI and the defendants by the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development’s Division of Unemployment Assistance found that Harder and Rosati failed to make any unemployment insurance contributions for their employees.
An Essex County Grand Jury returned indictments against Harder and Rosati on March 18, 2011. They were arraigned in Essex Superior Court on May 2, 2011. Harder pleaded guilty and was sentenced in Essex Superior Court on July 17, 2012. Judge Lu stayed the imposition of his sentence until August 16, 2012. Rosati pleaded guilty and was sentenced in Essex Superior Court on July 20, 2012.
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 was prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Andrew Rainer and Laura Harris with assistance from Northeast Regional Office Attorney Colleen McConnell, and Environmental Strike Force Director Pamela Talbot. Strike Force officials involved in this investigation included Environmental Police Officers and MassDEP officials John MacAuley, Stephen Spencer, Tim Dame, Jim Jordan, and Richard Tomczyk. Lynnfield Police also assisted in the investigation.