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Baltimore Man Gets Year in Jail for Obstructing Asbestos Training Scheme Investigation
Release Date: 4/12/2001
Contact Information: Donna Heron, 215-814-5113
Donna Heron, 215-814-5113
PHILADELPHIA – A federal judge in Richmond, Va., has sentenced a Maryland man to one year and a day in jail and a $20,000 fine for obstructing justice during the investigation of a scheme to sell fraudulent asbestos training certificates – which are required under the Toxic Substances Control Act.
Edwin J. “Tommy” Hayes, 54, of Baltimore, Md., admitted during his guilty plea in August, 2000 that he had obstructed justice by advising Omar Gonzalez, a certified asbestos trainer in Virginia and other states, to “lose all your paperwork” and to “make sure it gets gone” when Hayes knew EPA and the FBI were criminally investigating the unlawful sale of asbestos training certificates.
Hayes’ efforts proved futile as the investigation eventually resulted in the successful prosecution of Gonzalez and his company, ITSS, Inc. for false statements and income tax evasion concerning the sale of the fraudulent training certificates. Gonzalez received 27 months in jail, and he and the company were fined $90,995. Gonzalez was also ordered to pay restitution of $68,089 for the evaded taxes.
In 1997, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the FBI investigated a scheme to sell fraudulent asbestos training certificates in an attempt to circumvent federal and state laws requiring asbestos workers to be properly trained and certified in asbestos inspection, removal and abatement activities.
The investigation revealed that Hayes authorized the purchase of fraudulent training certificates for Coastal Lead and Asbestos Abatement, Inc. in Baltimore. Hayes was married to the owner of Coastal Lead.
Asbestos, a known human carcinogen, is regulated under the Clean Air Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act. To reduce exposure to workers and the public, federal laws required special precautions for the removal, handling and disposal of asbestos material - which is why training certification is mandatory.
This case was investigated by EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division and the FBI, and was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Richmond, Va.