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April 5, 2014

NT man admits role in federal crime

Tonawanda News — A North Tonawanda man has pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to a false statement under the Clean Air Act, U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. announced Friday.

Brian Scott, 33, was an air sampling technician who was employed by JMD Environmental at the time of the crime, Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango, who is handling the case, said. Scott was certified to conduct asbestos project monitoring and air sampling duties by the New York State Department of Health. 

Scott’s codefendants, Ernest Johnson and Rai Johnson, of Johnson Contracting, conducted asbestos monitoring at six buildings at the Kensington Towers Apartment Complex in Buffalo between June 2009 and January 2010.

During the course of the project, Rai Johnson created daily progress logs that are required under the Clean Air Act. In his log for building A-1, Rai Johnson incorrectly wrote that all floor tiles containing asbestos had been removed. 

Then, on July 7, 2009, Scott conducted a visual inspection of the building for the floor tile and issued a satisfactory visual inspection “when in truth the defendant was aware that all asbestos-containing floor tiles had not been removed,” a statement from Hochul’s office reads.

Scott faces a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a fine of $125,000. He will be sentenced at 12:30 p.m. on Aug. 8. 

Scott is the third defendant to plead guilty as part of the asbestos abatement project at Kensington Towers. In addition to Rai and Ernest Johnson, JMD project monitors Chris Coseglia, Henry Hawkins and Evan Harnden have been charged.

Charges have also been levied against current and former public officials who were responsible for certifying the project’s compliance with laws and regulations including Donald Grzebielucha, William Manuszewski and Theodore Lehmann.

The remaining defendants will go to trial before U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Arcara on May 13. 

The plea is the culmination of an investigation led by special agents of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, special agents of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and investigators of the state Department of Environmental Conservation police.

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