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Businessman gets prison for not removing asbestos from factory

An Ohio businessman has been sentenced to almost five years in prison and ordered to pay nearly $8 million in restitution for failing to properly remove asbestos from his Cleveland factory before demolishing it.

Details of the case

According to a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office, the man -- who owned several garbage-hauling businesses in the Cleveland area -- had originally leased the factory in 2011 in order to recycle paper and cardboard there.

Unfortunately, more waste was delivered than could be handled at this site, so the businessman had the wasted moved inside -- eventually filling most of the factory.

As detailed in court documents and discussed in the press release cited above, the man eventually purchased the building in May 2012, intending to demolish it and sell the scrap metal.

Even though the city rejected the demolition notice initially submitted, demolition of the building began in late July without proper city approval -- resulting in the release of asbestos fibers into the air.

For violating the Clean Air Act by not removing the asbestos prior to demolishing the building, the businessman was:

  • Sentenced to 57 months in prison
  • Ordered to pay $5.9 million in restitution to the city of Cleveland to clean up the site
  • Ordered to pay $800,000 to the EBP for work already completed on the site
  • Ordered to pay $1.1 million to a defrauded Louisiana company

Acting U.S. Attorney David A. Sierleja stated that this punishment is well deserved, particularly since the businessman essentially created an asbestos-ridden garbage dump in a "residential neighborhood near a school."

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