LAWFUEL – Law News Network – R. Alexander Acosta, United S…

LAWFUEL – Law News Network – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Ricky Langlois, Special Agent in Charge, Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division, Miami, and Ataya Satyal, Environmental Manager, Palm Beach Health Department, announced that Parkland Towncenter, LLC, the corporate owner/ developer of a renovation project in the Northwood area of West Palm Beach, and Neil Kozokoff, 50, of Palm Beach, general manager of Parkland, were sentenced today in West Palm Beach by U.S. District Judge Daniel T. K. Hurley.

Parkland had previously pled guilty in April 2006 to having knowingly failed to file the advance written (10-day) notice in connection with the demolition or renovation of the Northwood Building, as required under the federal Clean Air Act’s National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs) pertaining to asbestos. Parkland was sentenced to two years corporate probation, a $125,000 criminal fine, a $45,000 payment to the Florida Statewide Environmental Task Force in lieu of community service, and a $400 special assessment. Kozokoff, who had previously pled guilty in April 2006 to being an accessory-after-the-fact to Parkland’s knowing failure to file the required notice, was sentenced to 18 months federal probation, with a special condition requiring 90 days of home confinement, a $25,000 criminal fine, and a $25 special assessment.

Defendant Terry Dykes, 54, of Lake Worth, was previously convicted by a West Palm Beach jury on May 9, 2006, of two counts of violating the NESHAPs pertaining to asbestos. On July 21, 2006, Judge Hurley sentenced Dykes to 24 months’ imprisonment, followed by two years of supervised release.

During Dykes’ trial, evidence showed that he directed several employees and temporary workers from a local labor pool to improperly remove boiler and pipe insulation containing asbestos material from the Northwood facility, without adequately wetting such insulation and without adequately providing the workers with the necessary respiratory equipment and trained asbestos on-site supervisor. The evidence also showed that Dykes directed that the asbestos material be disposed together with other construction site debris, rather than at a waste disposal site that could legally accept asbestos containing waste. The NESHAPs regulations are designed to protect workers and the public from exposure to the risks of airborne asbestos

In addition, in a separate case before the U.S. District Court Judge Donald Middlebrooks, Mark Schwartz, the general contractor for the Northwood Project, pled guilty to having knowingly failed to file the advance written (10-day) notice in connection with the demolition or renovation of a facility containing asbestos material concerning the Northwood project. Schwartz was sentenced to five years’ probation, including six months of home confinement.

United States Attorney Acosta stated, “This case shows our commitment to enforcing environmental laws that protect our community from harm.”

“As owner and operator of the apartment building, Kozokoff and his company, Parkland, had a responsibility to the public and to the workers at the site to ensure that the asbestos was removed legally and safely,” said Granta Y. Nakayama, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. ” The public will not tolerate environmental crimes that put their health at risk and business owners and their companies will be held personally accountable for the safe handling of asbestos and other hazardous substances.”

Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division and the Palm Beach County Health Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jose A. Bonau of the Economic and Environmental Crimes Section, and Trial Attorney Jennifer Whitfield of the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls . Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov/ or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov/.

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