MADIGAN: DEMOLITION FIRMS, OWNER PLEAD GUILTY TO FELONY ASBESTOS CHARGE
Chicago - Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced that a Chicago man and two corporations he owns recently pled guilty to felony asbestos charges in connection with the 2005 demolition of a Chicago building.
On October 19, 2007, Daniel T. Coyne entered a guilty plea in Cook County Circuit Court to the charge of Failure to Remove Asbestos, a Class 4 felony. The court ordered Coyne to pay $15,000 in fines, costs, and restitution and sentenced him to 30 months probation. Coyne also entered guilty pleas on behalf of his corporations, ACES Demolition and ACES Environmental Consulting. The court ordered each corporation to pay $15,000 in additional fines, costs, and restitution.
An investigation by the USEPA-Criminal Investigation Division (USEPA-CID) and the City of Chicago Department of Environment (CDOE) revealed that in June 2005, Coyne provided the city with fraudulent inspection information in his capacity as an asbestos inspector. Specifically, in an inspection report concerning a former Dominick's store at 3649 N. Central Avenue in Chicago, Coyne falsely certified that he had conducted a visual inspection of the building, including the pipes, beams and other areas that may contain asbestos, and declared the area “free of asbestos containing materials (ACM).” According to the IDPH, Coyne's asbestos inspector's license had expired in May 2005. Based on Coyne's false inspection information, the Chicago Department of Construction and Permits issued a permit to Coyne's company to demolish the former Dominick's store.
“The city relied on this inspection information in issuing the demolition permit only to find out that the defendants were endangering public health by risking exposure to asbestos,” Madigan said. “We took this enforcement action to make sure that the public health is protected.”
After the demolition began, a November 2005 CDOE inspection revealed more than 3,000 linear feet of ACM in the form of pipe insulation in the basement of the structure. CDOE ordered a stop to the demolition until the ACM was properly removed. CDOE also notified IDPH of its findings. IDPH had previously imposed sanctions on Coyne and his companies for other asbestos-related violations and referred the case to the USEPA-CID. The case was then referred to Madigan's office for prosecution.
“Asbestos, a known carcinogen, can risk public health if not removed properly,” said Penelope Prochazka, Special Agent-in-Charge of the USEPA-CID. “This guilty plea sends a clear message that environmental crimes will be vigorously prosecuted.”
"The Illinois Department of Public Health is the licensing agency for persons working in Illinois' asbestos abatement industry, including inspectors and contractors and will not tolerate anyone misrepresenting themselves as being currently licensed, nor will the Department tolerate putting the public's health at risk through the improper handling of asbestos. The Department is actively engaged with various state and federal agencies, working to ensure violators are prosecuted and the public's health is not compromised," said IDPH Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold.Assistant Attorney General Richard J. Powers handled the case for Madigan's Environmental Crimes Bureau. Special Agents Dan Sekerek and Eric Hann investigated the case for the USEPA-CID.