This month in an asbestos exposure case, an asbestos contractor was indicted by a federal court for one count of theft from a program receiving federal funds. Federal prosecutors have named Mark A. Victoriano, owner of Professional Safety Consultants, LLC, in the indictment for allegedly defrauding the Terrebonne Parish School Board of more than $212,000.
The Covington, LA man allegedly forged signatures of an accredited asbestos inspector, also submitting 56 invoices with false lab reports dating back to 2015. According to federal prosecutors in the asbestos exposure case, the test results he sent allegedly contain falsified air monitoring and asbestos results. Mr. Victoriano’s company, was responsible for asbestos abatement and monitoring for the Terrebonne Parish School Board from 2011-2017.
Asbestos Emergency Response Act
The alleged accusations are stated by authorities to be a direct violation of the Asbestos Emergency Response Act (AHERA). Under AHERA, each school or facility must maintain an Asbestos Operation & Maintenance Plan addressing all areas confirmed or suspected to contain asbestos, which if not done correctly can be held up in an asbestos exposure case. The act mandates, asbestos-containing materials in schools requiring local education agencies to inspect their school buildings for asbestos-containing building material, prepare asbestos management plans, and perform asbestos response actions to prevent or reduce asbestos hazards.
The EPA is also enacted through the AHERA act to develop a model plan for states to accredit persons that conduct asbestos inspection and corrective-action activities in school systems. These persons are primarily contractors, licensed and insured, who possess the appropriate training required to handle the asbestos abatement and testing duties. Their qualifications are recorded and submitted for approval, with the EPA residing over enforcing the provisions and codes of this act.
Asbestos Contractor Indicted
Information contained in the indictment of the asbestos exposure case shows the accused party was contracted by the Terrebonne Parish School Board to perform asbestos abatement and testing duties. Allegedly, Mr. Victoriano forged the signature of an accredited asbestos quality inspector so his own company could complete and invoice the work.
The signature was found by authorities on paperwork required to be submitted under the AHERA Act. The EPA is the enforcement division that oversees the act. Special Agent Christopher Brooks, of the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division of Louisiana, said, “The federal asbestos act “is designed to protect our schools from hazardous air pollutants.” The Federal prosecutors of the asbestos exposure case attest that Victoriano was an unlicensed asbestos contractor and knowingly forged the signature[s] of an accredited contractor.
Contractor Previously Falsified Documents
Prior to Mark Victoriano’s recent indictment, he pled guilty back in 2013 to submitting false documents to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. The prior conviction involved his company providing asbestos abatement training. He was sentenced to 12 months of probation and fined.
The arraignment date is February 27th in a New Orleans courtroom. If Mark Victoriano is convicted, he could face up to 10 years in federal prison. Legal Counsel in the asbestos exposure case for Victoriano has not made any comments at this time.
Asbestos Contractor Must Be Licensed And Accredited
Asbestos abatement contractors are required by law to be licensed and or accredited. There have been other counts of contractors posing as legitimate asbestos contractors who use the license or signature of another accredited contractor so they can perform the work. Not only are these activities illegal but also dangerous because specialized training must be done for licensing or accreditation.
It is very important that asbestos is handled with care. Asbestos is a carcinogenic group of mineral fibers that can be harmful when airborne. These asbestos particles, when inhaled, can be lodged in the lining of the lungs and could develop into mesothelioma or other lung-related illness. Contractors who avoid the law will more than likely be insufficient with enacting safety initiatives for clients and workers and this will lead to an asbestos exposure case.
Please do not hesitate to check to see if an asbestos contractor is licensed or accredited. Someone who does not have the proper training and knowledge of handling or disposing of asbestos will make for a dangerous situation for everyone involved. Not to mention using an unlicensed asbestos contractor is against the law.
If you have been exposed to asbestos without prior knowledge or have any sort of asbestos exposure case, please contact an asbestosis attorney immediately.