Asbestos Removal Results in Federal Charges
The conversion of a former church into a charter school in Bay City, Michigan has resulted in asbestos-related criminal charges being brought against three men who were involved in the renovation project. The jury trial begins today in a Bay City federal courthouse before U.S. District Judge Thomas L. Ludington.
According to authorities, Roy Bradley Sr. and Gerald Essex have been accused of violating the Clean Air Act by improperly handling and disturbing asbestos while renovating the old church at 400 North Madison Avenue. The renovation lasted from August 18th 2010 to September 2nd 2011 under the oversight of Bradley, the owner of Lasting Impressions, the company that oversaw the renovation work.
On January 23, 2013, Rodolfo Rodriguez, a carpenter working for Bradley, testified before a federal grand jury about how much asbestos he removed from old plumbing pipes, and under whose instruction it was done. He falsified information during the hearing, varying how much asbestos he removed from 20 feet to 200 feet. He also claimed at first that he had removed it without direction from anyone else. Upon being pressed, he admitted that Essex had told him to “gut the place”. In February, Rodriguez pled guilty to one count of perjury before a grand jury.
On August 29, 2013, Roy Bradley Sr. appeared before U.S. Dist. Magistrate Judge Charles Binder for arraignment on four felony counts of handling and disturbing asbestos illegally. He pleaded not guilty. On the 16th of September 2013, Gerald Essex was also arraigned on the same four felony charges by Judge Binder. He also pled not guilty. Rodriguez also was indicted that day on a count of tampering with victims, informants or witnesses and making incorrect declarations before a grand jury.
The case was investigated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). As of yet, Prosecutors haven’t revealed the source of their information and how they came to know about the illegal mishandling of the asbestos.
According to the plea bargain agreement, Rodriguez is facing 15 to 21 months in prison for perjury. If convicted, both Bradley and Essex are facing up to 5 years in federal prison, in addition to possible fines of $250,000.