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Asbestos Company's Accreditation Stripped by State; Oneida County Business Owner Pleads Guilty to Felony Charges
Release Date: 12/05/2002
|(#02127) State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Antonia Novello and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Jane Kenny today announced that the owner of an Oneida County asbestos monitoring company pleaded guilty to filing falsified records with the state.
A nine-month state and federal investigation determined that Steven Majka, part-owner of Alternative Environmental Services, Inc. of Clayville, falsely reported to the State Health Department that he personally conducted air monitoring in two places at the same time on July 21, 2001. The investigation also determined that in July 2001, Majka's company conducted an asbestos monitoring training course and filed documents with the State Health Department certifying that eight asbestos workers had attended and completed the training when in fact only two trainees had actually attended.
Alternative Environmental Services, Inc. is licensed by the State Health Department to provide training to workers in the asbestos removal and air quality monitoring industry. The company must file periodic reports of its operations and training services with the Health Department.
"The safe removal of cancer-causing asbestos can only be accomplished if those doing the work conduct their business in full compliance with state and federal regulations," said Attorney General Spitzer. "We will tolerate nothing less when health and safety are at stake. My office will continue to work with state and federal agencies to punish those who cheat."
State Health Department Commissioner Dr. Antonia Novello said: "This investigation is another excellent example of how the State Health Department, the State Attorney General's Office and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have worked together diligently to help protect the health of New Yorkers. This case underscores the importance of the state's comprehensive training and certification program for all employees involved in asbestos removal projects."
EPA Regional Administrator Jane Kenny said: "Mr. Majka's actions put the health of his workersand building occupants at risk. These workers didn't know how to protect themselves when removing asbestos and because monitoring results were falsified there is no way to know for certain that these areas were safe to re-occupy once the work was completed. Mr. Majka has no regard for the law or for its underlying purpose of protecting human health. Now, he and his company will pay."
Majka admitted that he falsified his records for a July 28, 2001 training course at his company's Clayville office to show that eight asbestos workers completed the training when, in fact, only two were present. He also admitted that on July 21, 2000 he made false entries into his business records claiming both that he was conducting air monitoring at the Oneida County Airport in Oriskany at 7:55 a.m. and that he was taking air samples at New York Mills in Clayville, 15 miles away.
Majka pled guilty today before the Hon. Barry Donalty in Oneida County Court to one count of Falsifying Business Records in the first degree, and one count of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the first degree. Both crimes are class "E" felonies. Majka will be sentenced January 16, 2003. At that time, he is expected to be sentenced in accordance with the agreement made by the court today to six months in jail and four-and-one-half years' probation. Majka will also be barred from ever again working in the asbestos industry in New York State.
As a result of the investigation and Majka's guilty plea, the state has stripped Alternative Environmental Services, Inc. of its accreditation to train and certify asbestos monitoring workers. The company had been licensed by the state since November 1999 to provide asbestos training and consulting services.
The investigation was handled by Assistant Attorney General Rocky Piaggione, Attorney General's Office Investigator Leslie Arp, Inspector James Meany of the State Department of Health, and the Environmental Protection Agency's Criminal Investigation Division.