Owner of East Bay Company Sentenced to Federal Prison for Issuing Sham Asbestos Certificates
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 06, 2010|
SAN FRANCISCO—Rogelio Lowe, also known as Roger Lowe, was sentenced Thursday afternoon to five months in prison, followed by three months of home confinement and 300 hours of community service, United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced. The sentence follows a guilty plea entered earlier this year on charges stemming from Lowe’s fraudulent operation of E&D Environmental Safety Training, Inc., a company that offered occupational training for asbestos workers,
On Oct. 20, 2009, Lowe, 44, of Thornton, Calif., was charged in an 11-count indictment with mail fraud and false statements. On July 30, 2010, he pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud. According to the plea agreement, from 2007 to 2009 Lowe perpetrated a scheme to defraud whereby he would provide asbestos training to students for a fee and then not train these students for the required amount of time, and in several instances would provide little or no training.
Asbestos is classified as a hazardous substance and known carcinogen. The act of removing friable asbestos carries with it a high risk of creating airborne asbestos debris. Exposure to friable asbestos is linked to diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
By law, any person seeking accreditation as an asbestos worker must complete a four-day training course that is eight hours per day in length. The course includes 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, they must then take an annual refresher course.
According to court documents, 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 30 minutes in length, provided answers to the closed-book examinations, and forged tests for students that did not attend a test day. Lowe, nonetheless, issued certificates to students and charged their employers. This scheme extended to both the required four-day initial training and the annual refresher course. Lowe submitted class rosters to the California Division of Industrial Relations, Division of Occupational Safety and Health, also known as Cal/OSHA, reflecting that these students had successfully completed the training and passed the 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.
The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey S. White following a guilty plea to two counts of mail fraud, each in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341. In addition to the prison time and home confinement, Lowe must serve 300 hours of community service related to the environment. Judge White also sentenced the defendant to a three-year period of supervised release. Judge White ordered the defendant to begin serving his prison sentence on Feb. 2, 2011.
Stacey Geis is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who prosecuted the case with the assistance of Rayneisha Booth and Beth Margen. 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 and prosecution.
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