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June 18th, 2014

Illegal Asbestos Removal Leads to Jail Time and Major Financial Penalties

Property owners beware: if you have a building with any suspected asbestos-containing materials, be sure to have it properly tested and removed by a licensed firm, or you could face jail time and/or major financial penalties.

Suspected asbestos-containing materials

Suspected asbestos-containing materials

Last year, a building owner and its non-licensed contractor were found guilty of several felony counts for failure to properly remove asbestos insulation.

Michael Pinski pled guilty to violations of the Clean Air Act related to illegal and unsafe asbestos removal from a Kankakee building he owned. He was sentenced to 6 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release including six months of home detention.

Pinski hired Origin Fire Protection to remove the asbestos-containing pipe insulation in the 5-story building he owned in Kankakee. Origin’s owner and operator, Duane “Butch” O’Malley subsequently arranged for James Mikrut to recruit and oversee workers to remove the asbestos. During O’Malley’s trial, evidence was presented that Origin Fire Protection was not trained to remove asbestos and that it agreed to do the work for substantially less money than a licensed abatement firm. Furthermore, after improperly removing the asbestos-containing
insulation, Mikrut and his crew dumped more than 100 trash bags in an open field in Hopskins Park, causing soil contamination.

O’Malley was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being found guilty of five felony counts. In addition, he was ordered to pay $47,086 in restitution for the cleanup of the asbestos materials by the EPA and a $15,000 fine. Mikrut pled guilty to five felony counts and was sentenced to 12 months plus one day in prison, followed by one year of supervised release under home detention.

Gabriel has licensed asbestos inspectors who can assist you with determining if asbestos exists and recommend licensed firms for the abatement process if it does. If you have any questions about asbestos, contact Steve Sawyer (ssawyer[at]gabenv.com or 773-486-2123) or Bill Gray (bgray[at]gabenv.com or 219-972-1110).

More information: www.justice.gov/usao/ilc/press/2013/01january/20130116.html