(c) 2016 Jon L Gelman, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Company, Owner Sentenced in Asbestos Dumping Case

Donzell Moore of Toledo was sentenced today in Lucas County Court of Common Pleas after pleading guilty in June to two charges related to asbestos removal and disposal during demolition of the former Champion Spark Plug facility on Upton Avenue in Toledo.

“I take illegal dumping and asbestos disposal crimes very seriously. The people who commit this crime believe they are saving a few dollars, but in the process they put public health at risk,” said Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler. “I appreciate the public providing tips that led to the convictions, and thank our local, state and federal partners who brought these men to justice.”

Moore, 41, pleaded guilty on June 4 to charges of complicity to remove asbestos without a certification or license, a felony, and illegal disposal of construction and demolition debris, a misdemeanor. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail with work release, three years of community control and 240 hours of community service. He also was ordered to pay $25,274.37, jointly with his company, to Ohio EPA for cleanup costs. The court also reserved a 12-month prison sentence if Moore violates the terms of his community control.

Moore’s company, Moorhouse Real Estate Development, LLC, also was ordered to pay court fines totaling $10,750. The company pleaded guilty to complicity to remove asbestos without a certification or license and removing asbestos without notifying Ohio EPA and illegal disposal of construction and demolition debris.

“Our communities are not dumping grounds,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said. “Those who dump dangerous materials illegally and on someone else’s property must be held accountable. In this case, Mr. Moore put Lucas County residents at risk, and now he is facing the consequences of his actions.”

In October 2012, Moore paid scrap worker Ronald Gibson, 57, to illegally remove and dispose of friable (easily crumbled) asbestos pipe insulation from the Champion facility in anticipation of demolishing the boiler building. Gibson, of Holland, illegally disposed of the asbestos insulation in rural western Lucas County and in large trash bins behind an apartment complex in West Toledo.
The dump site in western Lucas County was discovered in November 2012 on private property off Old Stateline Road in Monclova Township. After evidence was collected, the asbestos insulation was cleaned up and properly disposed of by an Ohio EPA contractor.

Ohio EPA worked with the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation and U.S. EPA and, with help from public tips, the investigation led to Gibson. Gibson pleaded guilty to removing asbestos without a license or certification, an unclassified felony; removing asbestos without notifying Ohio EPA, an unclassified misdemeanor; and illegal disposal of construction and demolition debris, a second degree misdemeanor.

Gibson was sentenced on April 15 to one year and 90 days in jail and a $750 fine on the latter two counts. He received three years’ community control including 160 hours of community service and was ordered to pay $5,374.37 in restitution. The jail time was suspended on condition he complete the terms of his community control and cooperate in the prosecution of Moore and his company.
Friable asbestos is easily crumbled and its fibers can become airborne. If inhaled into the lungs, it can cause serious health problems. For this reason, asbestos is a highly regulated material with special handling and disposal requirements.

The criminal investigation was a collaboration of multiple agencies at the local, state and federal level as part of the Northwest Ohio Environmental Crimes Task Force, which also included assistance from the Toledo Division of Environmental Services and Ohio Department of Health’s Environmental Abatement Section.
Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  1.973.696.7900  have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.