A.G. Underwood Announces Guilty Pleas Of Unlicensed Asbestos Testing Company And Managers For Defrauding Customers Throughout The Capital Region

News from the New York Attorney General's Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 24, 2018

Attorney General's Office Press Office / 212-416-8060
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A.G. UNDERWOOD ANNOUNCES GUILTY PLEAS OF UNLICENSED ASBESTOS TESTING COMPANY AND MANAGERS FOR DEFRAUDING CUSTOMERS THROUGHOUT THE CAPITAL REGION

Albany Environmental Consultants, LLC and its Owner and Project Manager Unlawfully Forged Letterhead to Use Identity of a Licensed Asbestos Testing Company

Company Stole $40,000 from 19 Victims – Including from a Hospital, Firehouse, Church, Bus Station, Manufacturing Facility, and Individual Homeowners

CAPITAL REGION — Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood today announced the guilty pleas of Albany Environmental Consultants, LLC (“AEC”), headquartered in Albany, NY; its owner Ronda M. Dolan, 51, of Earlton, NY; and its Project Manager Brian K. McLaren, 54 of Troy, NY for illegally using the identity of a licensed asbestos testing company to defraud customers into believing AEC was licensed by New York State to test for asbestos. In reality, AEC’s license had expired in 2014 – yet 19 unsuspecting victims paid almost $40,000 to the defendants for asbestos-handling services, only to have the work redone by a properly licensed company.     

We all know about the extreme risks posed by asbestos exposure,” said Attorney General Underwood. “It is unconscionable that a company would work without a New York license – undermining the public trust and risking the health of unsuspecting customers. We’ll continue to work with our partners in government to protect New Yorkers’ health and safety.”

Earlier this month, the defendants were arraigned in Albany City Court before Honorable Gary F. Stiglmeier on a felony complaint charging each with one count of Identity Theft in the First Degree (a class “D” felony), four counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a class “D” felony), two counts of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree (a class “E” felony), and one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (a class “E” felony). 

According to statements by prosecutors, AEC had a New York State asbestos remediation license until approximately August 2014. After the license expired, and knowing that they could not obtain asbestos-related jobs without a license, the defendants forged their letterhead by using the license number of a legitimately licensed company. The defendants operated this unlicensed company through at least January 2015 and took on at least 19 jobsincluding at personal residences, a manufacturing facility, a firehouse, a church, a bus station, and a hospital – throughout Albany, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Washington, and Westchester Counties. As a result, unsuspecting customers were later required to have all of the defendants’ asbestos work redone by a licensed asbestos company.

On July 19, 2018, Albany Environmental Consultants, LLC entered a guilty plea before Honorable Peter A. Lynch in Albany County Court to one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (a class “E” felony). On July 23, 2018, owner Ronda Dolan and project manager Brian McLaren both pleaded guilty before Honorable Stiglmeier in Albany City Court to one count each of Scheme to Defraud in the Second Degree (a class “A” misdemeanor).

All three defendants admitted to having stolen approximately $40,000 and signed confessions of judgment in favor of their 19 victims. These judgments against the defendants state the amount of money stolen from each victim, admit that the money was taken as part of a scheme to defraud, and allow the victims to obtain reparations in the future.

The convictions were the result of a joint investigation by the Attorney General’s Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau, in partnership with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the New York State Department of Labor – Asbestos Control Bureau, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

NYS Commissioner of Labor Roberta Reardon said, “This company violated the public’s trust and put the health and safety of their customers in danger. I thank the Attorney General and everyone involved in this investigation for assuring that these bad actors are held accountable for unscrupulous behavior.”

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “I applaud the work of our state and federal partners in bringing these defendants to justice in a case that epitomizes a company putting profits over public health. Certification and training of those who work in the asbestos abatement industry ensure that these hazardous air pollutants are handled properly, yet these individuals were willing to deceive customers and endanger our community to pad their bottom line.”

EPA Special Agent in Charge Tyler Amon said, “These charges are a great example of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division working cooperatively with our state counterparts to root out fraud and corruption in the environmental arena. The defendants charged in this case fraudulently deceived numerous individuals by avoiding compliance with important provisions designed to protect public health from the release of asbestos, a hazardous air pollutant.” 

Attorney General Underwood would like to remind the public of the importance of using licensed and permitted contractors when handling asbestos. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is hazardous to human health and is known to cause a type of cancer known as mesothelioma. To find a licensed contractor, please use the New York State Department of Labor – Active Asbestos Contractor List, which can be found here.

Attorney General Underwood thanks the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the New York State Department of Labor – Asbestos Control Bureau, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency for their valuable assistance in this investigation. 

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Philip V. Apruzzese of the Attorney General’s Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau and Assistant Attorney General Hugh L. McLean of the Environmental Crimes Unit, with the assistance of Legal Support Analyst Kira Russom. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton and Deputy Bureau Chief Joseph D’Arrigo. The Division of Criminal Justice is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Margaret Garnett.

The OAG investigation was conducted by Investigator Mark Terra, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Antoine Karam. The Investigations Division is led by Chief Investigator Dominick Zarrella.