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Little Justice in Three Year Old Asbestos Fraud Case

Only now, three full years after her conviction, is she finally sentenced, the woman responsible for endangering hundreds of illegal asbestos workers and innumerable members of New England communities. Albania DeLeon’s punishment is largely financial. She was ordered to pay $1.2 million restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and $370,000 restitution to AIM Insurance. Her prison sentence is a mere seven years, with three years of probation after her release. That seems mild compared to the death sentence handed down by most asbestos related illnesses, including asbestosis, mesothelioma and other malignant cancers.

Here’s a crime that makes identity theft look gentle in comparison. Most of DeLeon’s customers were illegal immigrants who, rather than obtain fake documents from underground agencies specializing in identity theft, chose to bypass that step and go straight to a skilled trade.

 Forget fake drivers licenses, how about fake asbestos abatement certifications? The place to buy those in Massachusetts, which thrived for six long years, closed up shop in 2007 when its owner, Albania DeLeon, was exposed and arrested. She had been selling certificates to people and placing them in jobs where they were supposed to be trained to perform asbestos abatement services, except they weren’t. The workers didn’t have to undergo training at DeLeon’s school, they just had to pay an extra $50 to bypass the federally-mandated 32-hour program and get the certificate.

The closing of the long-lived fraudulent Massachusetts school for asbestos removal training and certification was a high profile story back in 2007 when it happened. It was an even bigger story in 2008 when DeLeon fled the country after being charged with dozens of felonies. She sawed off the monitor locked around her ankle, abandoned her three-year-old child and disappeared. That should teach the feds not to merely house arrest someone who’s destined to be the first woman ever placed on the EPA’s most wanted fugitives list.

As reported by the Boston Globe in 2009, DeLeon wrote a three page letter to US District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton, part of which read: “I pray that God will forgive my soul and allow me to atone the rest of my life repaying and repairing the harm I have done. This is my solemn promise.” Although a prayer for forgiveness is not a solemn promise, one might gather from the letter that DeLeon sincerely wished to amend her wrongs. Unfortunately not. She fled the country. Nineteen months later, on October 30, 2010, DeLeon was arrested again in the Dominican Republic. Her actual sentencing took a while because the sincerely remorseful DeLeon secured herself a better lawyer for the hearing.

Although Cynthia Giles, the assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance says that “justice was served” in this case, we disagree. Sure, DeLeon was ordered to pay back the IRS and an insurance company for fraudulent tax return filings and claims, but the real loss occurred when more than 2,000 untrained, illegally certified asbestos workers were exposed to carcinogenic asbestos fibers or silicate minerals while unsafely removing asbestos from hundreds of New England schools, hospitals, churches and homes. In addition to the illegally certified asbestos workers, nobody knows how many children and other innocent members of the community were also exposed to asbestos fibers during these projects.

If you were exposed to asbestos and subsequently diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact a mesothelioma attorney. If you have any questions about the details ofasbestos law and what is required to pursue a settlement, check out the information available on the American Law Partners website as well as this Asbestos Resource website.

Landfill Contaminated With Asbestos

Elbert County in Denver, CO has a unique asbestos abatement project to tackle – that of a public landfill and trash compactor site. The site has historically been used to dispose of roofing and building materials, much of which was from before the mid 1970’s when buildings were routinely constructed with an abundance of asbestos. The landfill has been the primary dumping site for such rubbish but then it is compacted into bundles and shipped off to another landfill.

Concern about asbestos at the site arose when a backhoe company began excavating the grounds in preparation to remove an old missile silo. Local residents in the area called in complaints to authorities that contaminants were being spread by the excavation. Subsequent soil tests and tests to the debris at the landfill showed the presence of asbestos. No charges were filed because the asbestos had not yet gone airborne, but rather was contained to the landfill site.

 Upon learning of the presence of asbestos among other environmental contaminants, the excavating was ceased and the area was covered, pending professional asbestos abatement services.

Cory Stark, director of Elbert County Emergency Management determined that the backhoe company, Backhoe Services, was operating without having tested the soil first and without a formal contract with the city. As reported by the Denver Post, Backhoe Services could not be reached for comment.

Stark asserts that there has been no danger to local residents so far as the toxins have been contained. Still, local residents have remained cautious and concerned. They are now taking their trash and debris to an alternate dump site.

Asbestos diseases such as lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma are the unfortunate result of asbestos exposure. If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, contact a mesothelioma lawyer at American Law Partners today for a free consultation.

Mesothelioma Researchers Receive Donation at University of Hawai’i Cancer Center

The University of Hawai’i Cancer Center has received a generous gift of more than $3 million to continue its important research regarding the causes of mesothelioma as well as potential cure for the disease.

An anonymous donor has given a $3.58 million donation to the Hawaii cancer center to help aid the mesothelioma research work of its director, Dr. Michele Carbone, and her colleagues.

 ”Mesothelioma is a serious public health problem,” said Dr. Virginia Hinshaw, Chancellor of UH Mānoa. “We’re proud that Dr. Carbone’s team is leading the world in this area of discovery. This gift validates their efforts and will help them remain at the forefront of thoracic oncology research.”

The gift is the second largest one ever given to the UH Cancer Center. Dr. Carbone’s and researchers at the center recently released new findings relating to the presence of erionite – a material that causes mesothelioma – in rock materials that are used to pave roads in North Dakota.

The center has also conducted studies in Capadoccia, Turkey, a region where nearly 50 percent of the residents die of mesothelioma. There are currently plans for Dr. Carbone and collaborators to conduct a clinical trial co-sponsored by the Early Detection Research Network of the U.S. National Cancer Institute and the Turkish Ministry of Health to validate serum biomarkers they discovered for the early detection of mesothelioma.

“Private support is essential to solidify the UH Cancer Center’s role as the world leader in mesothelioma research,” said UH System President MRC Greenwood. “We look forward to furthering our work with donors to help the UH Cancer Center fulfill its vast potential as a transformative research enterprise for our state.”

Mesothelioma and asbestosis are both deadly illnesses that are caused primarily by prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers. If you were exposed to asbestos while working for a company and have since developed one of these illnesses, it may be worth pursuing a mesothelioma lawsuit that could potentially result in a substantial asbestos settlement. If you think that a mesothelioma attorney could help prove your illness was caused by a specific entity’s negligence, please contact American Law Partners for a free legal consultation.

Wall Covering May Limit Risk of Asbestos Exposure

A British company may have developed a viable new method to keep asbestos products in the walls of older buildings from releasing fibers that could be inhaled by people nearby.

Datatecnics, a Birmingham, England-based company, recently announced its creation of ADAAS (Asbestos Disturbance Automated Alert System), a special type of wall covering that is either plastered or painted onto asbestos products and is designed to prevent small asbestos particles from being released to areas where people may be located. The polymer film is also designed to trigger an alarm if it is breached in any way.

 The company claims that using the ASAAS film will help eliminate older forms of asbestos testing and monitoring while being more cost effective as well.

While the company is still looking for investors before any widespread launch of the product, its mere existence could be a sign of good things to come in regard to the prevention of asbestos exposure in the years to come.

“Asbestos is in a lot of public buildings. The Government estimates that 70 percent of UK schools contain it and the guidance from the Health and Safety Executive is to manage most of it, not remove it,” Mohammad Zulfiquar, Datatecnics’ CEO, recently told Electronics Weekly.

Mesothelioma and asbestosis are both deadly illnesses that are caused primarily by prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers. If you were exposed to asbestos while working for a company and have since developed one of these illnesses, it may be worth pursuing amesothelioma lawsuit that could potentially result in a substantial asbestos settlement.

If you think that a mesothelioma attorney could help prove your illness was caused by a specific entity’s negligence, please contact American Law Partners for a free legal consultation.

Mesothelioma May Have Genetic Causes as Well

A new study from a section of the National Institutes of Health has made a landmark connection between certain genetic mutations and an individual’s susceptibility to developing mesothelioma at some point in their life.

The study - which was funded by the National Cancer Institute and recently had its results published online in Nature Genetics – uncovered evidence that people who possess BAP1 gene mutations may have an increased chance of developing multiple cancer types such as mesothelioma, breast, ovarian, pancreatic and renal cancers. The study highlighted two U.S. families that contain individuals who have the BAP1 gene mutation. Both families also have “a high incidence of mesothelioma.”

 Dr. Joseph R. Testa, a study co-leader and the Carol and Kenneth E. Weg chairman in Human Genetics at Fox Chase Cancer Center, said the study was the first to “demonstrate that individual genetic makeup can greatly influence susceptibility to mesothelioma.”

“This discovery is a first step in understanding the role of the BAP1 gene and its potential utility when screening for mutations in those at high risk,” added Dr. Michele Carbone, another study co-leader and the director of the University of Hawaii Cancer Center. “Identifying people at greatest risk for developing mesothelioma, especially those exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos and erionite worldwide, is a task made easier by virtue of this discovery.”

While only a first step, the discoveries noted in this study could one day lead to bigger and better breakthroughs to come that could possibly lead to a cure for mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma and asbestosis are both deadly illnesses that are caused primarily by prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers. If you were exposed to asbestos while working for a company and have since developed one of these illnesses, it may be worth pursuing amesothelioma lawsuit that could potentially result in a substantialasbestos settlement.

If you think that a mesothelioma attorney could help prove your illness was caused by a specific entity’s negligence, please contact American Law Partners for a free legal consultation.

Docs Urge Canada to Stop Asbestos Exports

Canada’s doctors are calling their government “shameful” for its decision that opposes the limitation of chrysotile asbestos exports. The Canadian government also refused to support labeling this proven carcinogen as a hazardous product.

The government’s decision has served as a vivid reminder to Canadians of the mining practices in the Ontario town of Sarnia that caused so many of its citizens to contract mesothelioma – a rarecancer of the tissues lining the lungs, chest, and abdominal cavity – it’s since been nicknamed the  mesothelioma capital of Canada.

Occupational physician Dr. Deborah Hillier pointed out that Canada exports asbestos mined in Quebec to “Third World countries where it is not used appropriately.” Workers in these countries are therefore at risk for asbestosis, mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other asbestos-related diseases. These countries are also manufacturing products with the carcinogen that are being sent back into Canada, expanding the exposure.

Chrysotile asbestos makes up more than 90 percent of all asbestos mined globally. The battle between the doctors and the Canadian government isn’t new — the mining and export of chrysotile asbestos has caused controversy among health professionals and the regulatory bodies within governments of countries that mine it for many years. The battle centers on the profitability of mining and exporting asbestos to the countries versus the alarming health risks the substance has been proven to cause.

Living with the day-to-day hardships of mesothelioma – whether it is you or a loved one who has been diagnosed with the illness – is both emotionally and financially taxing for all who are involved. If you feel that a company or former employer may be responsible for the asbestos exposure that led to an illness, contact a mesothelioma attorney to learn about filing a mesothelioma lawsuit.

George Washington University Undergoes Asbestos Abatement in Faculty Building

George Washington University conducted asbestos abatement processes at one of its major buildings only weeks before students returned to campus to kick off the new school year.

According to the GW Hatchet, the University’s newspaper, Rice Hall – a building that houses offices for some of the school’s more notable and experienced faculty – underwent asbestos abatement projects in August to prevent any risk of asbestos exposure as the school prepares to renovate the building in the near future.

 “GW has an asbestos policy that guides the maintenance of asbestos-containing materials in University buildings,” said William Flint, the university’s director of the office of health and safety. “Prior to renovation or demolition of any university building, a hazardous materials survey is conducted using District of Columbia and EPA regulations to determine the risk to students, staff, faculty andconstruction workers. If hazardous materials are discovered, proper abatement is conducted to remove the materials prior toconstruction or demolition.”

Darrell Darnell, the senior associate vice president for safety and security at the school, added that students and faculty at the school were safe and he didn’t foresee any adverse health effects caused by any exposure to asbestos. However, he also would not divulge what floors, pipes, tiles, or other building products in the hall had been found to contain asbestos.

Mesothelioma and asbestosis are both deadly illnesses that are caused primarily by prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers. If you were exposed to asbestos while working for a company and have since developed one of these illnesses, it may be worth pursuing amesothelioma lawsuit that could potentially result in a substantial asbestos settlement.

If you think that a mesothelioma attorney could help prove your illness was caused by a specific entity’s negligence, please contact American Law Partners for a free legal consultation.

Asbestos Trust Funds Scrutinized by Republicans in Congress

Imagine a hammock that more and more people keep piling into without anybody getting out. The weight would quickly become too burdensome to bear and, sagging with a tangle of limbs and torsos, the rope would break. That’s what companies whose livelihoods were once asbestos dependent are like. With billions paid in asbestos settlements each year, the financial strain of numerous personal injury lawsuits from employees exposed to asbestos is too much for any corporation to hold.

What’s best for both the injured employees seeking compensationas well as the companies themselves is for the hammock to hold, or at least have a safety net in place. That’s why more and more of those companies have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcies to reorganize their assets and debts as well as put aside money for injured asbestos workers into what are known as asbestos bankruptcy trusts. More and more of these have been established as more and more companies have filed Chapter 11’s over the past two decades.

 The only problem with asbestos bankruptcy trusts is that the asbestos workers who are ill from asbestos exposure — whether with asbestosis, mesothelioma, or some other type of asbestos-related cancer — don’t receive what they need and deserve, which is the full value of their settlements. The system was created to makeasbestos claims easier to file, often requiring no more than adiagnosis and a form to fill out. Yet, the amount of money that actually makes it to the injured worker is typically less than one third the amount of the settlement, according to a study by the RAND Corporation.

Now, there are around 50 different asbestos bankruptcy trusts paying out billions in asbestos claims each year. However, there are still many solvent companies liable for asbestos exposure injuries.Mesothelioma lawsuits are being filed against these solvent companies as regularly as the spinning of a well-oiled wheel. The companies have lawyers scrambling for ways to limit their liability and avoid taking responsibility for the widespread tragedy of asbestos-related cancer and other illness. To that end, defense lawyers want access to detailed records from asbestos bankruptcy trusts, allowing them to see who is paid how much for what specific illness.

Lately, Republicans in Congress are looking at the issue, deciding whether to make changes to these asbestos bankruptcy trusts. As reported by the National Law Journal (subscription required),asbestos lawyers and mesothelioma attorneys argue that the corporate defense lawyers want this reform only to expose the spokes of that well-oiled wheel so that they can throw in sticks.

There is no telling how soon or in what way Republicans in Congress will act on this issue. Meanwhile, if you have mesothelioma or another asbestos-caused illness, you may have a claim against an existing or future asbestos bankruptcy trust. If you were exposed to multiple asbestos products that were manufactured by different bankrupt companies, you may actually qualify for compensation under several trusts.

Buffalo NY Housing Project Turned Asbestos Nightmare

After state and city officials along with asbestos abatement contractors were indicted on 23 different felony charges a couple of months ago in Buffalo, New York, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is slapping Buffalo’s Housing Authority with fines.

The felony charges came after two companies were hired to removeasbestos from the abandoned towers of the housing project, Kensington Heights. The workers violated the federal Clean Air Act by improperly disposing of asbestos and falsified documents in the process. A state inspector and two City of Buffalo inspectors were included in the indictments.

 Now, two months later, new information makes Buffalo’s public housing authority complicit in the botched job. The allegations against the authority are similar to those that were brought upon the workers, but are administrative charges, not criminal charges. The authority is accused of violating the EPA’s National Emission Standards for Asbestos and faces significant fines as a result – up to $25,000 per day, per violation. The EPA is issuing a compliance order to the Buffalo housing authority that includes orders for asbestos abatement for the towers followed by demolition.

The vacant six towers of the Kensington Heights housing project is a 17-acre complex situated right next to a public park and close to three schools as well as a large hospital. Asbestos is a known and dangerous carcinogen. When people are exposed to asbestos, the tiny fibers are inhaled and become embedded in the lungs. Asbestos exposure leads to the development of many types of cancerincluding asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer.

If you or a loved one have been exposed to asbestos and were subsequently diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, or lung cancer, call an asbestos attorney at American Law Partners today.

Landfill Contaminated With Asbestos

Elbert County in Denver, CO has a unique asbestos abatement project to tackle – that of a public landfill and trash compactor site. The site has historically been used to dispose of roofing and building materials, much of which was from before the mid 1970’s when buildings were routinely constructed with an abundance of asbestos. The landfill has been the primary dumping site for such rubbish but then it is compacted into bundles and shipped off to another landfill.

Concern about asbestos at the site arose when a backhoe company began excavating the grounds in preparation to remove an old missile silo. Local residents in the area called in complaints to authorities that contaminants were being spread by the excavation. Subsequent soil tests and tests to the debris at the landfill showed the presence of asbestos. No charges were filed because the asbestos had not yet gone airborne, but rather was contained to the landfill site.

Upon learning of the presence of asbestos among other environmental contaminants, the excavating was ceased and the area was covered, pending professional asbestos abatement services.

Cory Stark, director of Elbert County Emergency Management determined that the backhoe company, Backhoe Services, was operating without having tested the soil first and without a formal contract with the city. As reported by the Denver Post, Backhoe Services could not be reached for comment.

Stark asserts that there has been no danger to local residents so far as the toxins have been contained. Still, local residents have remained cautious and concerned. They are now taking their trash and debris to an alternate dump site.

Asbestos diseases such as lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma are the unfortunate result of asbestos exposure. If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, contact amesothelioma lawyer at American Law Partners today for a free consultation.