- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for Winchester Landlords, Real Estate and Development Companies Charged With Illegal Asbestos Work at Apartments Marketed to Lowell and Fitchburg College Students
BOSTON — Two Merrimack Valley landlords, who are brothers, and their four companies have been charged with 106 counts of violating the Massachusetts Clean Air Act by illegally demolishing, storing, and transporting asbestos waste at apartment houses marketed to college students in Lowell and Fitchburg, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
On Thursday, a statewide grand jury indicted Christopher L. “Christie” DeRosa, age 68, with 28 counts of Clean Air Act violations and indicted Steven J. DeRosa, age 62, with 22 counts of Clean Air Act violations. The indictments also charge four companies associated with the brothers’ business. DeRosa Properties, LLC and DeRosa Properties, Inc., both Massachusetts entities, are charged with 22 counts each of violating the Clean Air Act. Greenscape Property & Building Construction Services LLC and Greenscape Property and Building, LLC, New Hampshire entities allegedly responsible for the Fitchburg violations, are charged with six counts each.
The allegations stem from renovation work at four Lowell apartment buildings and one Fitchburg multi-family residence. Each of the locations is close to either the University of Massachusetts-Lowell or Fitchburg State University. The defendants are longtime business partners, landlords, and real estate developers throughout the Merrimack Valley.
The defendants will be arraigned on the charges in Middlesex Superior Court and Worcester Superior Court at a later date.
Asbestos is a hazardous material and known human carcinogen regulated under the Clean Air Act. It is used as fire proofing in a wide variety of building materials, from roofing and flooring, to siding and wallboard, to caulking and insulation. and is especially prevalent in older construction. If asbestos is improperly handled or maintained, fibers can be released into the air and inhaled, devastating the lungs, causing scarring, malfunction and potentially life-threatening illnesses, including asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Once disturbed, asbestos fibers can remain airborne, and therefore breathable for up to 72 hours. Because of the serious health risks associated with asbestos, there is no safe level of exposure.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) requires builders to conduct a professional asbestos survey prior to any demolition or renovation work, to notify MassDEP before working with any asbestos-containing material, and to carefully remove, wet, seal, and otherwise contain any asbestos-containing material to prevent the release of asbestos fibers into the air. Building sites and equipment must be carefully cleaned. Once removed, asbestos must be transported and disposed of at a special landfill.
AG Healey has made asbestos safety a priority, with aggressive enforcement of the state’s asbestos laws a key component of the Office’s “Healthy Buildings, Healthy Air” Initiative that was announced in March 2017 to better protect Massachusetts children, families, and workers from the serious health risks posed by asbestos.
For more information on asbestos and asbestos-related work, visit MassDEP’s website outlining asbestos construction and demolition notification requirements. For more information about asbestos-related worker safety and school safety requirements, visit the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards’ website for its asbestos safety program.
These charges are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General David Wittenberg and Assistant Attorney General Laila Atta, both of AG Healey’s Environmental Crimes Strike Force, with assistance from Detectives with the Massachusetts Environmental Police, MassDEP Deputy Regional Director John Macaulay, Asbestos Section Chief Grady Dante, Attorney Colleen McConnell, of DEP’s Northeast Regional Office, Asbestos Section Chief Gregory Levins, and now retired Asbestos Inspector Donald Heeley of MassDEP’s Central Regional Office, as well as Environmental Analyst Timothy Dame of MassDEP’s Environmental Strike Force.