Every time someone who is charged with the task of protecting others from asbestos exposure lies about the presence of the mineral, someone else gets hurt. It may take decades for the damage to appear, but chances are that problems will occur.
This is likely the case in regards to a situation that involved two licensed asbestos abatement professionals – a father and son – in Staten Island, New York who claimed the buildings at the already-controversial Mount Manresa development site were free of asbestos.
Mount Manresa is an old Jesuit settlement, founded in 1911, the oldest retreat house in America. More than 15,000 people visit the site annually but it is currently being destroyed to make way for townhomes.
The two individuals involved – Gaspare Santoro and his son Paul – pled guilty late last week to lying about asbestos by filing false reports that stated there was no sign of toxic asbestos in the buildings on the property, despite the fact that lab work – including samples taken at the site – showed otherwise.
“By willfully falsifying asbestos reports from the Mt. Manresa site, the Santoros showed blatant disregard for public health, including construction workers and neighboring residents,” said District Attorney Michael McMahon in a statement to the local press.
“While today’s outcome, which includes the forfeiture of the Santoros’ engineering and asbestos investigator licenses, will not undo the actions of the developers at Mt. Manresa, it will prevent these individuals from ever again committing these crimes.”
The men were hired by the developers of the property to certify that the historic buildings on the site, which include a caretaker’s residence and a dining hall, were free of toxic asbestos.
If there was no asbestos found, the developer – Savo Brothers – would be free to demolish the buildings without further action. Chances are that the father and son team may have been “convinced” by the developer to certify the buildings asbestos-free, though there is no current evidence that the two were in cahoots.
Now, if the Santoros’ attempt to work in the field of asbestos abatement or inspection again, they will face prison time. However, that’s nothing new for the pair, who’ve been in related trouble before.
In fact, they were arrested three years ago after officials found lab reports pertaining to the same project, stating that there was indeed chrysotile asbestos inside some of the Mt. Manresa buildings, though the men had hidden the fact from local environmental agencies.
“They later told police they didn’t even test pipe insulation at Building 1A, the Caretaker’s House, even though they both knew asbestos would likely be found inside, prosecutors said.
Later testing by the city found the material in the pipes,” notes an article on DNAinfo.com, a NYC-area news source.
The Santoros also got in trouble for certifying that three residential properties and a commercial building were asbestos-free, even though the pair was well aware that the toxic mineral lurked inside.
In addition, the elder Santoro just completed two years of probation. He was serving the sentence for “grossly negligent failure to comply with the substantial provision of local laws governing the practice of architecture” on a different project.