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Two Wisconsin Men Convicted in Illegal Asbestos Removal Case

Release Date: 05/12/2004
Contact Information:

Suzanne Ackerman, 202 564-7819 /

(05/12/04) Michael L. Smith and Lawrence J. Williams, partners in Smith Renovations in Janesville, Wisc., were each convicted on May 5 of violating the Clean Air Act (CAA). The jury found Smith guilty of five counts and Williams guilty on one count. In April 2002, Smith Renovations contracted with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Mt. Horeb, Wisc., 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 expose workers and others who enter the area where the asbestos was removed to the inhalation of airborne asbestos fibers. Inhaling airborne asbestos is a known cause of lung cancer, a lung disease known as “asbestosis,” and mesothelioma, which is 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.