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Two Colorado Businessmen Charged with Asbestos Abatement Violations

Release Date: 04/28/2004
Contact Information:

Suzanne Ackerman 202-564-7819 /

(04/28/04) Joseph J. Cannella, of Arvada, Colo., and Steven Douglas Herron, of Aurora, Colo., were indicted on Apr. 8 on charges relating to a 1999 asbestos abatement project at the Fort Morgan High School in Morgan County, Colo. Cannella was a senior management employee of the asbestos abatement company, National Service Cleaning Corporation (NSCC). Herron operated a consulting firm hired by Morgan County School District to supervise and certify NSCC’s asbestos renovation work. The 11-count indictment alleges that the defendants conspired to violate the Clean Air Act (CAA), make false statements, and commit mail fraud. The defendants allegedly did not wet the asbestos during its removal, properly lower it, dispose of it in leak-tight wrapping, or promptly deposit it at a waste disposal site. Improper handling of asbestos can cause asbestos fibers to become airborne, and inhaling airborne asbestos is a cause of lung cancer, the lung disease “asbestosis” and mesothelioma, cancer of the chest and abdominal cavities. The defendants also allegedly submitted fraudulent invoices to the school district, falsely certifying that work was completed according to contract terms and federal law. Both defendants face mail fraud counts for submitting false invoices and certifications through the U.S. Postal Service. If convicted, they face a maximum of up to five years in federal prison and/or a $250,000 fine for each of five counts of CAA violations, each of four counts of mail fraud, and for one count of conspiracy and one count of making a false statement. The case was investigated by the Denver Area Office of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, the Internal Revenue Service Office of Criminal Investigations, and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s office for the District of Colorado. An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent unless or until they are proven guilty in a court of law.