I was surprised to see a news release from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stating that a former EPA fugitive had been caught and sentenced to prison for running an asbestos training scam.
First of all, I wasn’t aware that the EPA had a fugitive list. Second of all, I was appalled at what this fugitive had done.
Albania Deleon ran an asbestos abatement training school in Methuen, MA from 2001 through 2006. During this time, the company offered training courses on proper asbestos abatement. Upon successful completion of an asbestos training course, participants are considered certified in asbestos abatement and given a certificate stating so.
Ms. Deleon skipped a few key steps in this process. She was convicted of, among other things, selling certificates to thousands of illegal aliens who had not taken the required course. The individuals then filed the certificates with the Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety in order to be authorized to work in asbestos abatement.
Ms. Deleon then placed these uncertified workers in positions as certified abatement workers in public buildings throughout New England.
The fact that someone cold knowingly do this blows my mind. It’s similar to a story covered previously on this blog about a man in Iowa who knowingly allowed a building he owned that contained asbestos-laden materials to undergo extensive renovations without the proper equipment or certified workers.
What Ms. Deleon did happened on a much larger scale and with the potential for much larger consequences. It is estimated that certificates were issued to over 2,000 unqualified individuals.
Ms. Deleon was captured in the Dominican Republic in November of 2010, nineteen months after her federal conviction in 2008. She was sentenced to 87 months in prison and ordered to pay $1.2 million to the IRS (she was also found guilty of tax fraud), and $369,015 to AIM Mutual Insurance Company.
After her conviction in 2008, but before she fled back to her native Dominican Republic, Ms. Deleon wrote in a letter “I pray that God will forgive my soul and allow me to atone the rest of my life repaying and repairing the harm I have done. This is my solemn promise…I commit myself to work ceacelessly [sic] to make restitution to the government and to the keeper of my soul until I draw my last breath life (sic).”
The irony in that statement is obvious, as many of the workers that received “certification” under her watch will suffer long and painful deaths from asbestosis or other asbestos-related diseases.
I am glad to see that the EPA is cracking down on environmental criminals like Ms. Deleon. The EPA fugitive website was launched in December 2008 and has helped aid in the capture of five environmental criminals in that time.