On Wednesday, June 9, Lester Mancuso, Paul Mancuso and Steven Mancuso were all given prison sentences for their parts in an asbestos scam that began in 2003 with an asbestos remediation firm called Controlled Waste Systems Inc. (CWSI) which the Mancuso family jointly owned and operated.
Lester Mancuso, 71, the father, pled guilty on June 8 and was sentenced to 3 years in prison. Steven Mancuso, son and attorney, was given 44 months for concealing the role his brother, Paul, continued to play in the company. Paul himself, at 45, will serve 6.5 years for his role as the main player behind the massive asbestos fraud that took place all across the Mohawk Valley in New York State for the better part of a decade.
The story began when Paul Mancuso was charged, in 2003 and again in 2004, first for illegal asbestos removal and disposal, and then for insurance fraud.
After the last charge, the court told Paul that he could no longer work for CWSI, or with anyone who had been charged with violating the law in regard to asbestos remediation – which included Steven, who was charged with using his legal skills to help his family commit the asbestos fraud.
One other brother, Ronald, who has already pleaded guilty to asbestos fraud and testified against his brothers, will be sentenced on June 16. He could get up to 5 years in prison for his role in the family’s asbestos removal deception.
The scheme, according to prosecutors, involved Steven setting up dummy companies in relatives’ names, after Paul’s second conviction, which he then allowed Paul to operate in direct violation of the court order.
Steven also allowed Paul to run these dummy companies out of his law office, and helped Paul (and his other brothers and father) produce false documents that succeeded in concealing the family’s non-compliance with federal and state asbestos removal regulations while continuing to operate CWSI.
In some cases, the illegally-removed asbestos was secretively dumped on other landowner’s properties in the state of New York. In one case, the asbestos was poured down a storm drain at a Utica school – incidents for which Paul was also assessed $20,000 in fines at this most recent trial.
This is not even counting the dollar-value restitution Paul, his brothers and his father might be required to pay as a result of their faulty asbestos remediation. And, since this is the fourth time Paul has been charged, he was again warned not to participate in any future asbestos remediation projects and given one of the heftiest jail sentences seen in an asbestos case.
It could have been worse. A 2009 newspaper article suggested that Paul could have faced up to 51 years in prison for his role in the asbestos scheme, as well as millions of dollars in fines and restitution.
Sentencing, by U.S. District Judge Frederick Scullin, concluded the two-week long trial. The case was investigated by agents of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and prosecuted by the Department of Justice through its Environmental Crimes Section, with the help of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York.
Nothing has been said about CWSI’s future. The company currently has contracts with two school districts, Utica and Hartford, and with the Utica Municipal Housing Authority, as well as contracts with several other large organizations.
Sources: WCAX, Utica Observer-Dispatch