Owner of East Bay Company Indicted for Issuing Sham Asbestos Certificates
Students Allegedly Licensed to Remove Asbestos Without Proper Training
|U.S. Attorney’s Office October 21, 2009|
SAN FRANCISCO—A federal grand jury indicted Rogelio (aka Roger) Lowe yesterday with two counts of mail fraud and nine counts of making or using a false document or writing, United States Attorney Joseph P. Russoniello announced.
Lowe, 43, of Thornton, Calif., is charged with engaging in a scheme to defraud in connection with issuing certificates to asbestos removal workers despite knowing that he had not provided them with the proper training, and charging their employers the full price of the training. Lowe is also charged with making and using false documents in connection with his scheme.
Federal law prohibits any person from removing asbestos from schools and public and commercial buildings unless that person has been trained under a program either approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency or an accredited State program. Asbestos is classified as a hazardous substance and known carcinogen. To become a certified asbestos worker, an individual must, at a minimum, complete a four-day, eight hours per day, training course. The training course must include lectures, demonstrations, at least 14 hours of hands on training and individual respirator fit testing. The student must then pass a closed-book examination. Once a person receives a certificate, he or she must then take an annual refresher course.
Lowe was the owner and operator of E&D Environmental Safety Training Inc., a safety consulting company that, according to its Web site, provides occupational training in asbestos work, lead abatement and mold remediation. According to the indictment, starting at an unknown date, but no later than 2008, Lowe provided asbestos removal courses that did not comply with federal law. As part of the scheme, Lowe did not teach the course for the required number of hours—including holding classes that were no more than 25 minutes in length—provided answers to the closed-book examinations, and forged tests for students that did not attend a test day. Lowe would then issue certificates to students and charge their employers accordingly.
The indictment further states that Lowe also submitted class rosters to the California Division of Industrial Relations, Division of Occupational Safety and Health, (Cal/OSHA), reflecting that these students had successfully completed the training and passed the closed-book examination when he knew they had not. Cal/OSHA used and relied on these rosters to add the names of students to its state list of qualified asbestos workers. According to the indictment, Lowe issued certificates for both initial asbestos training and annual refresher courses without providing the required training in violation of law.
Lowe made an initial appearance this morning in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth LaPorte and was released on a $400,000 bond. The matter has been assigned to the U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White. Lowe is scheduled to make an initial appearance in front of Judge White on Nov. 12, 2009 at 2:30 p.m.
The maximum statutory penalty for each count of violating Title 18 U.S.C. § 1341—Mail Fraud—is 20 years and a fine of $250,000. The maximum statutory penalty for each count of violating Title 18 U.S.C. § 1001—Making False Statements—is five years and a fine of $250,000. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Stacey Geis is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Rayneisha Booth. The prosecution is the result of a two-year investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigative Division. The case was referred to the USEPA and the FBI by Cal/OSHA, who provided assistance throughout the course of the investigation.
Please note, an indictment contains only allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, Mr. Lowe must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Case #: CR -09-01013 JSW
A copy of this press release may be found on the U.S. Attorney's Office's Web site at www.usdoj.gov/usao/can.
Electronic court filings and further procedural and docket information are available at https://ecf.cand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.
Judges' calendars with schedules for upcoming court hearings can be viewed on the court's Web site at www.cand.uscourts.gov.
All press inquiries to the U.S. Attorney's Office should be directed to Jack Gillund at (415) 436-6599 or by e-mail at Jack.Gillund@usdoj.gov>.