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Virginia Company Owner Indicted in False Certificate Case

Release Date: 12/11/2003
Contact Information:

Luke C. Hester 202-564-7818 /
Suzanne Ackerman 202-564-7819 /

(12/11/03) Ethel Mae Holmes, owner of Holmes Environmental Inc., in Virginia Beach, Va., was indicted on Dec. 3 on twelve federal counts involving conspiracy, mail fraud and filing false claims with the U.S. Government. The indictment alleges that Holmes bought false asbestos and lead abatement training certificates for herself and her employees from F&M Environmental Technologies Inc. The bogus certificates falsely claimed they had been trained to conduct asbestos and lead abatement. The certificates were then allegedly used to fraudulently obtain licenses to work in the asbestos and lead abatement industries in Virginia. The indictment further alleges that these false certificates were submitted to conduct lead asbestos abatement jobs at the Virginia Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, the Virginia Employment Commission, the U.S. Army at Fort Eustis, the U.S. Coast Guard, and other federal and non-federal facilities. Proper training is required to remove asbestos and lead in order to prevent human exposure. Inhaling airborne asbestos fibers is a cause of lung cancer, a lung disease known as “asbestosis, and mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the chest and abdominal cavities. Exposure to sufficient quantities of lead can cause neurological and other disorders. The case was investigated by the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division (Washington, D.C.), the FBI, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Division, the Defense Criminal Investigative Services, the Defense Contract Audit Office and the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alexandria and the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice. An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in a court of law.