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Phoenixville Business Owner Sentenced for Using Improper Practices to Remove Asbestos at Homes and Businesses
Release Date: 07/06/2006
Contact Information: Donna Heron, (215) 814-5113
PHILADELPHIA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that Wallace Heidelmark, 48, of Phoenixville, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to 24 months in prison and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine, a special assessment of $300, and restitution in the amount of $41,541.17 for asbestos violations.
Indoor Air Quality, Inc., the Phoenixville company owned and operated by Heidelmark, was also sentenced to two years probation, and was ordered to pay a $100,000 fine, a special assessment of $1,200 and restitution in the amount of $41,541.17.
Heidelmark and Indoor Air Quality, Inc., were in the business of removing asbestos from homes and businesses in the Philadelphia area. The indictment, issued in August 2005, charged the defendants with mail fraud, failure to comply with federal and state requirements concerning the removal of asbestos, including improperly removing asbestos from several locations between 2001 and 2004 without using adequate water during the removal, and not keeping the removed asbestos adequately wet.
“The Bush Administration holds polluters accountable by taking action against individuals and companies that knowingly risk public health for the sake of profit,” said Granta Y. Nakayama, EPA's Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “These illegal asbestos removals exposed workers as well as children and the general public to unnecessary health risks.”
The restitution ordered by the court will pay for medical examinations for employees of the company and will also reimburse certain homeowners who had subsequent air testing performed.
“These defendants are now being held accountable for exposing people to the health risk,” said Pat Meehan, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in which the case was prosecuted. “There are significant dangers associated with the improper removal of asbestos. That's why there are laws governing how it is removed and disposed of.”
The defendants operated a scheme to defraud homeowners by promising to use certain proper removal techniques in removing asbestos from their residences. They sometimes routinely failed to use the promised techniques, and regularly falsified air testing at the conclusion of asbestos removal jobs by sending blank, unused air sample canisters to a testing lab instead of canisters, which had actually collected an air sample at the residence where the removal job occurred. The defendants would then tell the homeowners and business owners that the building’s air had passed the post-removal air test.
The case was investigated by the Criminal Investigative Division and the Inspector General of the Environmental Protection Agency, with cooperation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The matter has been assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Albert S. Glenn, and Special Assistant United States Attorneys Sarah Keating and Joseph Lisa.
For specific questions about asbestos removal and the environmental impact, call the EPA’s regional hotline at 1-800-438-2474.