Hayward, California, Mesothelioma News – Conceding that a training program for asbestos workers was a fake, the owner of a California safety consulting company pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud on July 29.
The pleas, made in federal court in San Francisco, mark the culmination of a grand jury indictment handed down last October, in which the man, Rogelio “Roger” Lowe, was accused of carrying out a scheme whereby workers were issued certification in asbestos removal without receiving the required amount of training.
Asbestos-a building material known for its heat- and fire-resistant qualities-has long been scientifically linked to deadly diseases including lung cancer and mesothelioma, a cancer that strikes the protective lining covering many of the body’s organs.
Mesothelioma-which can take decades after asbestos exposure to develop-is invariably fatal and has been at the center of thousands of asbestos lawsuits. In many of these cases, mesothelioma lawyers have been successful in obtaining large jury awards and settlements-frequently in the millions of dollars-for those whose disease could have been prevented, had others taken reasonable care in using, removing, or warning about asbestos.
Asbestos removal, in particular, is hazardous, because the work can easily disrupt the cancer-causing material-which is often present in the ceilings, insulation, and flooring of older structures. Once disrupted, asbestos fibers can easily escape into the air. This is when the material is most dangerous, since asbestos fibers can be inhaled by workers or anyone else in the vicinity.
Federal law requires that workers seeking certification in asbestos removal take a four-day training course for eight hours a day. The company Lowe owned, E&D Environmental Safety Training Inc., of Hayward, Calif., claimed to provide such training.
Yet between 2007 and 2009, according to the grand jury indictment and the July 29 pleas, Lowe did not provide the required hours of training but issued the training certificates anyway. The indictment also alleged that Lowe gave students answers to tests and forged test results for students who missed class. Nevertheless, he charged the students’ employers-or the students themselves-up to $600 for the course.
The Lowe case is particularly troubling, say mesothelioma lawyers and experts, because unqualified asbestos workers raise the risk that renovation and demolition projects will not be conducted with the proper care, enabling the release of asbestos into the air. The resulting-and entirely preventable-asbestos exposure could later trigger mesothelioma and other deadly asbestos-related diseases.
According to Lowe’s attorney, Colin Cooper, the plea agreement provides for a prison sentence of two to 10 months. Lowe is due to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White on December 2. In the meantime, he continues to operate his company, but his license to provide asbestos training has been suspended.
This news story was brought to you by the mesothelioma lawyers of Cooney & Conway. For more than half a century, we’ve brought relief-and recovery-to those injured by the negligence or harmful actions of others. In the process, we’ve litigated some of the country’s most significant asbestos lawsuits, helping victims of mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other asbestos-related diseases get answers and justice.