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Monday, May 15, 2017

Two individuals, company plead guilty to violations of clean air act

All WNY News     Monday, May 15, 2017    

STAFF REPORTS



BUFFALO -- Two individuals and one company pleaded guilty to violations of the Clean Air Act. Sean P. Doctor, 50, of Buffalo, pleaded guilty to making a false statement under the Clean Air Act. The charge carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Raj Chopra, 53, of Grand Island, pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact to a false statement under the Clean Air Act, which carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a fine of $125,000. Chopra’s company, Comprehensive Employee Management, (CEM), located on Grand Island, pleaded guilty to making a false statement under the Clean Air Act. That charge carries a maximum penalty of five years’ probation and a $500,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango, who is handling the case, stated that CEM, an environmental consulting company located at 1815 Love Road on Grand Island, provided consulting services to defendant Doctor and his asbestos abatement company, S.D. Specialty Services, LLC. Pursuant to federal regulations, all owners or operators of an asbestos abatement project regulated under the Clean Air Act, must maintain a waste shipment manifest to include the name of the owner/operator; the name of the generator; and the date the asbestos was transported. The information enables the Environmental Protection Agency’s, which enforces the Clean Air Act and associated regulations, to properly and timely investigate suspected violations of the Clean Air Act.

From December 2009, to January 2010, employees of S.D. Specialty performed asbestos abatement work at the Roosevelt Park Shelter in Buffalo, which was subject to regulations of the Clean Air Act. During the project, S.D. Specialty employees removed asbestos from the Roosevelt Park Shelter and transported the material to a waste container at CEM on Grand Island.

On March 11, 2010, defendants Doctor and CEM executed an asbestos waste manifest which falsely indicated that asbestos had been transported to CEM from the Roosevelt Park Shelter on that date.  In truth and in fact, such asbestos had been transported to, and stored at, the Grand Island location prior to March 11, 2010. As such false statement was included in the shipping manifest created when a local waste disposal company retrieved the waste container at CEM on March 11, 2010, such false statement became part of a record required to be maintained under the Clean Air Act.

In addition, on April 28, 2011, an inspection of the Roosevelt Park Shelter revealed asbestos was improperly left behind by employees of S.D. Specialty.

The plea is the result of an investigation on the part of Special Agents of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Criminal Investigation Division, under the direction of Special Agent-In-Charge, Vernesa Jones-Allen; and Investigators of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Police, BECI, under the direction of Captain Frank Lauricella.  Additional assistance was provided by the New York State Department of Labor, Asbestos Control Bureau.

Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 28.

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