Rochester Asbestos Training Company Guilty Of Fraud

Attorney General Spitzer and state Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Antonia Novello today announced that Paradigm Environmental Services, Inc. - a Rochester asbestos safety training company - as well as a company employee, pled guilty to felony charges of filing false safety training documents with the state.

The fraudulent documents certified that employees of Paradigm had received asbestos safety training when, in fact, they had not. The company profited from this law-breaking behavior by filing the false certifications rather than pay its employees for time spent attending a required eight-hour safety training course.

Paradigm is an asbestos safety training company that also supplies air quality monitoring services at asbestos removal sites. The company operates from an address at 179 Lake Avenue.

"By putting profit above safety, this company endangered the health of its own employees," said Attorney General Spitzer. "Unless employees who work in the asbestos industry are properly trained, we cannot be assured of their safety and the safety of those in the communities where they work. My office will continue to work diligently to prevent similar abuses from occurring."

State Health Commissioner Dr. Antonia Novello said: "I want to commend the work of my staff and the Attorney General's Office for diligently investigating and bringing to justice Paradigm Environmental Services. It is so sad when a company is willing to put its profits above the health of New Yorkers. I hope Paradigm serves as an example to other companies that may be thinking of subverting our training program."

In Monroe County Court today before Judge Charles Maloy, Bruce Hoogesteger, Paradigm's president, entered a guilty plea on behalf of the company to one count of Offering a False Instrument for Filing, a Class E felony. As a condition of the plea, Paradigm's asbestos safety training accreditation was permanently revoked by the state and a fine of $100,000 will be imposed at sentencing, scheduled for December 17. Also, the company must pay to have all of its 16 employees properly trained in asbestos safety procedures.

In addition, Arthur Bragg, the former director of asbestos safety training at Paradigm, pled guilty to one count of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a Class E felony punishable by up to four years in prison.

Bragg, of 46 Park Circle Drive, Fairport, is also scheduled to be sentenced on December 17.

Another Paradigm employee, William King, of 15 Dewey Ave., Rochester, is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday, Oct. 30, and plead guilty to one count of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a Class E felony punishable by up to four years in prison.

Bragg, 72, falsely certified that Paradigm employees had attended his safety training sessions. King, 37, was a Paradigm employee who received a false safety training certificate from Bragg. King committed a crime when he signed a certificate for safety training he never received.

The incidents that make up this case occurred in April, 2000.

Spitzer credited the Department of Health for its thorough investigation of the case, specifically Investigator James Meany.

Investigator Darin Mugleston of the federal Environmental Protection Agency also assisted in the case.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Russell Ippolito Jr. of the Environmental Crimes Unit with the assistance of Investigator Paul Scherf, under the direction of Rocky Piaggione, Chief of the Environmental Crimes Unit, under the supervision of Janet Cohn, Chief of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau.