On November 14, Paragon Environmental Construction (PEC) supervisor Frank Onoff, who originally pled guilty on May 29, agreed to cooperate with federal investigators in their case against Certified Environmental Services (CES), the company in charge of laboratory reports, and CES employees Barbara Duchene, owner and laboratory manager; Nicole Copeland, a facilitator for the asbestos air monitoring program; Sandy Allen, an air quality monitoring agent; Elisa Dunn, formerly both a field services supervisor and air quality monitoring agent; and Thomas Juliano, another air quality monitoring employee.
The two companies worked hand in hand during most of the last decade, contracting asbestos removal jobs, during which most of the asbestos was left behind, and preparing false environmental reports, including air quality reports, which showed the asbestos had actually been removed per federal Clean Air Act requirements established under NESHAP, the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants.
Cicero, New York-based Paragon Environmental Construction, and another of its supervisors, pled guilty on May 29 of this year to a 16-count indictment that charges Paragon (and various employees) and CES (and various employees) with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government; violate the Clean Air Act; violate the Toxic Substances Control Act; commit mail fraud; and making false statements to agents of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The asbestos scam involved sites in Baldwinsville, Cincinnattus, DeWitt, Fayetteville, Liverpool, Oneonta, Syracuse, and Wampsville, New York, and included:
- Brewster Hall, Syracuse University, Syracuse
- Brockway Hall, Syracuse University, Syracuse
- Cazenovia Flower Shop, Route 20, Cazenovia
- Dablon Hall, Le Moyne College, Syracuse
- Flint Hall, Syracuse University, Syracuse
- Foery Hall, Le Moyne College, Syracuse
- Grewen Hall, Le Moyne College, Syracuse
- Hinds Hall, Syracuse University, Syracuse
- Holy Cross Elementary School, 4200 E. Genesee St., Dewitt
- Link Hall, Syracuse University, Syracuse
- Lyman Hall, Syracuse University, Syracuse
- Mitchell Hall, Le Moyne College, Syracuse
- Morgan Road Elementary School, 7795 Morgan Road, Liverpool
- Newhouse II, Syracuse University, Syracuse
- POMCO, 2450-2453 James St., Syracuse
- ROTC Storage Room, Archbold Gym, Syracuse University, Syracuse
- Rothschild Development, 805 E. Genesee St., Syracuse
- School of Nursing, Syracuse University, Syracuse
- Syracuse University, 403 Comstock Ave., Syracuse
- Seneca Federal Savings Bank, 35 Oswego St., Baldwinsville
- Slocum Hall, Syracuse University, Syracuse
- Temple Beth-El, 3528 E. Genesee St., Syracuse
Asbestos has been cited as the cause of a number of diseases, including asbestosis and lung and digestive system cancers. It is the only recognized cause of mesothelioma, a cancer of the mesothelial linings of the heart (pericardium), lungs (pleura), and abdomen (peritoneum).
The most common form is malignant pleural mesothelioma, a disease with long onset which leads to significant involvement of vital organs and tissues by the time it is diagnosed, and a generally poor prognosis. Most victims are given between one year and 18 months to live, though 10 percent of those diagnosed early (usually in the first two decades) and treated aggressively with surgery combined with dual chemotherapies (and sometimes radiation) can survive up to five years.
Onoff, who faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and $250,000 in fines, is scheduled for sentencing March 12 of 2010.
Sources: US Department of Justice, Syracuse.com