Environmental Protection

LA Man Pleads Guilty to Asbestos Work Practice Conspiracy

John Bostick apparently knew the building's ceiling contained asbestos but failed to tell workers, who were not trained in correct work practice techniques.

John Bostick pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act’s asbestos work practice standards during the renovation of a 204-unit apartment building in Winnetka, Calif., in 2006, according to a Feb. 23 press release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

The federal Clean Air Act requires those who own or supervise the renovation of buildings that contain asbestos to adhere to certain established work practice standards. These standards were created to ensure the safe removal and disposal of the asbestos and the protection of workers.

According to the plea agreement filed in federal court, Bostick knew in January 2006 that asbestos was present in the ceilings of the units of the apartment complex known as Forest Glen. Knowing that the asbestos was there, Bostick and his co-conspirators hired a group of workers who were not trained or certified to conduct asbestos abatements and had them scrape the ceilings of the apartment units without telling the workers about the asbestos. The illegal scraping resulted in the repeated release of asbestos-containing material throughout the apartment complex and the surrounding area and also caused the unlicensed workers to potentially be exposed to asbestos. After the illegal asbestos abatement was shut down by an inspector from the California South Coast Air Quality Management District, the asbestos was cleaned up at a cost of about $1.2 million.

On June 14, 2010, Joseph Yoon, the project manager, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the asbestos work place standards at the apartment site. A sentencing date has been set for April 25.

A six-count indictment charging conspiracy and multiple violations is pending against co-defendant Charles Yi, who was the owner of the Forest Glen condominiums. The trial in this case is scheduled for March15. The allegations in the indictment are mere accusations and all persons are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Criminal Enforcement, the California South Coast Air Quality Management District and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California and the U.S. Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division.

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