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Richmond Man Sentenced for Hiring Untrained Workers to Handle Asbestos During Apartment Renovation

Release Date: 1/16/2004
Contact Information: Donna Heron, 215-814-5113

Donna Heron, 215-814-5113

PHILADELPHIA – On January 14, 2004, in Richmond, Va., Manuel CedeZo was sentenced to two months of home confinement, 10 additional months of probation, and a $25,000 criminal fine for knowingly using untrained workers to handle asbestos.

CedeZo hired the workers to gather and bag asbestos-containing pipe wrap during the renovation of the McGuire Park Apartments, a South Richmond complex he purchased in 2002. A company controlled by CedeZo, Coast- to-Coast, Inc., earlier pleaded guilty to the same offense and paid a $10,000 fine.

CedeZo pleaded guilty on Oct. 1, 2003 to a knowingly violating the Toxic Substances Quality Act.

Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral that was widely used in building insulation products until the mid-1970s. Exposure to asbestos causes deadly diseases such as lung cancer, mesothelioma (a cancer of the lining of the chest and abdomen), and asbestosis. Federal law requires that persons who engage in asbestos-related work in schools or other public or commercial buildings undergo extensive training on how to properly and safely handle the material without endangering themselves or public health and the environment.

When CedeZo purchased McGuire Park in 2002, the complex contained several thousand linear feet of friable asbestos insulation on pipes in the buildings= crawlspaces. In August 2002 CedeZo disregarded warnings from his environmental consultant that licensed personnel should be used for asbestos work, and hired a crew of untrained laborers to gather pipe insulation from the crawlspaces and place it in plastic bags in the buildings= boiler rooms. In October 2002, shortly before an EPA investigation of the matter, CedeZo retained licensed asbestos workers to remediate the remaining insulation and related asbestos contamination, at a cost of more than $100,000.