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Two Wisconsin Men Convicted in Illegal Asbestos Removal Case

Release Date: 05/19/2004
Contact Information:

Suzanne Ackerman, 202-564-7819 /

(05/19/04) Michael L. Smith and Lawrence J. Williams, partners in Smith Renovations of Janesville, Wis., were each convicted on May 5 of violating the Clean Air Act (CAA) by improper removal of asbestos. The jury found Smith guilty of five counts and Williams guilty on one count. In Apr. 2002, Smith Renovations contracted with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Mt. Horeb, Wis., to remove asbestos-containing ceiling and flooring material. The defendants hired a licensed asbestos removal firm to remove the flooring, but in July they removed the asbestos-containing ceiling material themselves without following federally-mandated workplace practices. Improperly removing asbestos can cause workers and others entering the work area to inhale airborne asbestos fibers, which is a known cause of lung cancer, the lung disease “asbestosis,” and mesothelioma, a cancer of the chest and abdominal cavities. Each count of violating the CAA carries a maximum prison sentence of up to five years and/or a fine of up to $250,000. The case was investigated by EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in coordination with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Wisconsin Occupational Health Laboratory. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Madison, Wisc.