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Houston Man Sentenced on Asbestos Charges

Release Date: 09/05/2003
Contact Information:

Teresa Libera 202-564-7873 /

(09/05/03) On Aug. 27, Eric Kung-Shou Ho of Houston, Texas, was sentenced to serve 21 months in prison, serve three years of supervised release and pay a $20,000 fine by the U.S. District Court for the Southern district of Texas in Houston on two counts of violating the Clean Air Act. From December 1997 to March 1998, Ho hired undocumented workers from Mexico to scrape asbestos-containing fireproofing from metal beams in Houston’s abandoned Alief General Hospital, which he owned. The defendant directed the workers to work at night in order to avoid detection, but an explosion at the work site alerted investigators. Ho was convicted of failing to notify the Texas Department of Health that he intended to remove asbestos from the site and he also was convicted of failing to implement required federal asbestos work practices. Failing to follow asbestos work practices can expose workers to the inhalation of airborne asbestos fibers which can cause lung cancer, a lung disease known as “asbestosis” and mesothelioma which is a cancer of the chest and abdominal cavities. The case was investigated by EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division with the assistance of EPA’s National Enforcement Investigations Center. Prosecution assistance was provided by the FBI and the Houston Police Department’s Environmental Investigations Unit, and the case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas.