Businessmen convicted for falsifying asbestos test results

UTICA A Plattsburgh businessmen and two other area business owners have been convicted for their involvement in a scheme to commit fraud. Mark Desnoyers, 53, Plattsburgh, was convicted Sept. 19 following a two-week jury trial in federal court. Desnoyers, owner of Adirondack Environmental Associates, was an air monitor who took samples required to document the purported full and safe removal of asbestos from numerous commercial buildings and private homes. However, the evidence established Desnoyers secretly entered into agreements with the owners of asbestos removal companies to falsify his results. In so doing, the abatement companies in and around the Plattsburgh area were able to ignore significant environmental safeguards mandated by law and disturb the asbestos in a manner that spread this deadly substance throughout the areas purportedly being cleaned. The conspiracy between Desnoyers and the abatement contractors left facilities massively contaminated and exposed clients and other victims to the substance. Desnoyers was convicted of a conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act and to commit mail fraud; aiding and abetting substantive Clean Air Act violations; mail fraud; and multiple counts of making false statements to special agents of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. One week prior to the start of the trial, John F. Wood, 57, Plattsburgh, owner of J & W Construction, Inc., an asbestos removal company, pleaded guilty to the Clean Air Act and mail fraud conspiracy involving Desnoyers. Wood admitted his role in directing the illegal removal of asbestos from numerous commercial facilities and private homes and in utilizing Desnoyer's false air reports to fool clients into believing all the asbestos had been safely removed. He also pleaded guilty to contempt of court for violating numerous conditions of pretrial release, including committing additional illegal asbestos abatements after he had already been indicted for such conduct. Wood testified against Desnoyers at trial. Curtis Collins, 50, Willsboro, owner of Adirondack Asbestos, also pleaded guilty to conspiring with Desnoyers and Wood, and testified against Desnoyers. Collins acknowledged his role in the illegal removal of asbestos. Sentencing as been scheduled before the Hon. David N. Hurd on Feb. 13, 2009. Desnoyers faces a maximum possible term of incarceration of 25 years and a fine of $1,250,000, plus restitution to victims. Wood faces a maximum possible term of incarceration of 5 1/2 years and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution to victims. Collins faces a maximum of incarceration of 5 years and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution to victims. Asbestos has been determined to cause lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma, an invariably fatal disease. The Environmental Protection Agency has determined there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos. The case was investigated by special agents of the Environmental Protection Agency who were assisted by the Clinton County Sheriff's Department and the state Department of Labor, Asbestos Control Bureau. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig A. Benedict and Trial Attorney Colin Black, U.S. Department of Justice, Environmental Crimes Section.

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