Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Father and Son Story

Anyone who thinks that we don't need regulations or stiff criminal penalties for workplace crimes or that this type of thing doesn't happen in the 21st century in the U.S.A. needs to cut out this article and put it on the refrigerator.
Over a decade, Alexander Salvagno and his father, Raul, operated one of the state's largest asbestos removal firms, working on 2,000 projects from Buffalo to Long Island, often with a specific lab that vouched for their results.

Now, federal prosecutors say their work was the heart of a conspiracy in which they ordered crews to crudely rip asbestos from walls while the lab faked air tests, putting potentially thousands of people at risk of disease and death.

In what prosecutors say is the largest federal prosecution of its kind, the Salvagnos are charged with racketeering - including running a criminal enterprise - and conspiracy to violate the federal Clean Air Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act. An indictment alleges that the Salvagnos, who owned AAR Contractors of Latham, N.Y., in Albany County, did not bother with even minimal precautions that would keep toxic asbestos fibers out of the air.

The indictment charges that Alexander Salvagno was the secret and illegal owner of the lab it often worked with, and that it faked tens of thousands of air samples and test results. The buildings included elementary schools and private homes. Large manufacturers, a hospital, bank, convent and even the New York State Department of Labor Building - which houses the Office of Asbestos Control - are among the 39 buildings specified in the indictment.

According to testimony by former employees and investigators in the trial, which began in November, as many as 1,555 buildings from that 10-year period are suspect, because the asbestos removal firm and the laboratory collaborated. The Salvagnos, who could face lengthy prison terms, earned millions in the scheme, according to the court documents.
Also note that the penalties and jail terms the men face come result from violating EPA, not OSHA regulations.