Improper asbestos abatement is where we are increasingly seeing more dangerous exposure to asbestos in Boston and beyond.
According to a recent news article from The Buffalo News, Sean P. Doctor pleaded to guilty to criminal charges in connection with his asbestos abatement business. Doctor was a star player at Marshall University, where he played as a running back in the late 1980s. He was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in round six of the 1989 NFL draft. He was eventually released by the team.
Following his release from the Buffalo Bills organization, Doctor stayed in the area and joined the Buffalo Fire Department. He worked as a firefighter for 20 years before he retired. He also started a provisional asbestos abatement company with knowledge he acquired while with the fire department. Things did not go so well for Doctor after this point, according to prosecutors.As our Boston asbestos injury lawyers can explain, asbestos abatement (removal) must be done by a certified abatement processional and only after certain steps are followed and an asbestos abatement plan is approved by the department of health. If things are not done according to the rules, any number of people can be put at risk for asbestos exposure and ultimately mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, or other asbestos related respiratory illness.
Doctor, who is now 50 years old, pleaded guilty to making a false statement. This false statement involved the filing of a false hazardous waste manifest. A hazardous waste manifest is a required filing in an asbestos abatement project. This job took place in 2010. Doctor’s business partner also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and faces up to six months in jail.
He was facing up to a year in prison had his gone to trial as scheduled. However, as part of the plea in this asbestos abatement case, his attorneys argued for probation only, and prosecutors agreed not to challenge this recommendation. While a judge does not have to follow recommendations made by attorneys and can still sentence Doctor to a year in prison, most judges will go along with what an agreement suggests. If a judge gets a reputation for not following recommendations, as sometimes happens, there will be many more trials, as people are unwilling to plea and that can bog down an already overburdened court system.
There were originally 16 counts in this indictment, including several violations to the Clean Air Act. This act is a federal law that gives the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) power to enforce asbestos laws and go after suspected violators along with the aid of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the local jurisdiction.
During any plea, prosecutors will read facts of the case they would introduce as evidence at trial. In this case, prosecutors alleged asbestos was not secured in proper containers. This means that it was possible for wind to hit the asbestos and carry dust to where it could be inhaled or ingested by members of the community. These fibers are supposed to be kept wet to prevent dust from escaping, and then they are to be sealed in approved plastic containers and shipped to a hazardous waste facility with proper paperwork.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
Former professional football player pleads guilty in asbestos case, May 15, 2017, By Phil Fairbanks, The Buffalo News
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