Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Asbestos Crimes: A Just Punishment

It's nice sometimes to see someone get what they deserve. (Interesting article, but some journalists need to educate themselves. There's no mention in this article that asbestos can cause cancer.)
In one of the most severe punishments ever handed down for a federal environmental crime, a former Rensselaer businessman was resentenced to 14 years in prison for violating asbestos removal laws and jeopardizing the health of hundreds of employees.

Joseph Thorn, 41, former owner of A+ Environmental Services Inc, was initially sentenced to five years and five months for his October 2000 conviction on charges of money laundering and illegal asbestos removal.

But federal prosecutors appealed the sentence, saying Thorn's actions "resulted in the substantial likelihood of death or serious bodily injury" to roughly 700 people who worked for him between 1990 and 1999, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Benedict.

Chief Judge Fredrick Scullin sentenced Thorn, who is in federal prison, for the second time in U.S. District Court Monday, after the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan struck down the first sentence in January.

Thorn's former employees testified in 2000 that they had worked in asbestos "snowstorms" without required respirators and tore out asbestos without first wetting it to prevent the microscopic fibers from getting into the air, where they can eventually lodge in the lungs.

The company may have violated asbestos safety standards in about 1,000 buildings in upstate New York, including several schools in the Capital Region. Some customers were told the asbestos was removed and shown fraudulent air tests, witnesses said.
So this guy operated for 10 years, grossly violating asbestos standards in over 1,000 buildings -- including schools? Who's minding the store up there?