Cleanup Company Pleads Guilty and is Sentenced for False Reporting
NOV 24 -- FRESNO, Calif. — United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner, California Secretary for Environmental Protection Linda S. Adams, California Department of Toxic Substances Control Acting Director Maziar Movassaghi, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Anthony D. Williams announced today that PROFESSIONAL ASBESTOS REMOVAL CORPORATION, also known as PARC ENVIRONMENTAL, pleaded guilty this morning before Chief United States District Judge Anthony W. Ishii to making a false statement in a uniform hazardous waste manifest in violation of the Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which governs the safe handling and storage of hazardous materials, including hazardous waste found at clandestine drug labs.
This case is a product of an extensive investigation by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), Office of Criminal Investigation, in close partnership with the DEA.
Stated United States Attorney Wagner, “The California Department of Toxic Substances Control and DEA are to be commended for their thorough investigation, which led to corporate accountability for allowing a criminal falsification within the sensitive law enforcement work of properly cleaning up clandestine drug labs. This case is but one example of our office’s continued commitment to corporate accountability here in the Central Valley.”
“Today’s sentence should act as a strong deterrent to those who wish to pervert the course of justice while handling materials at drug lab cleanups,” stated DTSC Acting Director Movassaghi. “DTSC has been involved in cleaning up more than 12,000 illegal drug labs and drug lab waste abandonments in the last five years. Today’s sentence is a strong deterrent for this conduct and demonstrates DTSC’s continued commitment to ensuring a clean and safe environment for California’s citizens.”
“Companies that clean up hazardous waste found at drug labs are entrusted to complete that job honestly, with public and personal safety as a priority. Falsifying official documents jeopardizes that safety and corporations must be held accountable,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Williams. “This hefty criminal fine and restitution represents the seriousness of that crime. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners in holding companies who violate the public trust in this manner responsible for their actions.”
According to Assistant United States Attorney Marlon Cobar, who prosecuted the case, during sentencing, which immediately followed PARC ENVIRONMENTAL’s guilty plea this morning, Chief Judge Ishii imposed a criminal fine of $250,000 on the company and ordered it to pay DTSC $177,235.82 for investigative costs. PARC ENVIRONMENTAL paid all of the ordered restitution this morning and will pay the fine, in full, within the next four months.
Chief Judge Ishii also sentenced PARC ENVIRONMENTAL to three years of probation with special conditions contained in a strict corporate regulatory compliance program to be monitored by DTSC. The company is a leading provider of clandestine drug lab cleanup services to California law enforcement, and has already begun taking corrective measures in its operations.
Due to the sensitive nature of clandestine drug lab cleanups, PARC’s contractual relationships with law enforcement clients, such as DEA, included clauses requiring that environmental cleanup personnel be vetted for lack of criminal history. This was one measure to assure law enforcement agencies that the illegal substances they confiscated would be properly disposed of and not diverted to unlawful purposes.
On June 18, 2008, under a standing contract with DEA, PARC ENVIRONMENTAL responded to a clandestine drug lab cleanup site in San Francisco. With the explicit authorization of at least one of its managers, PARC ENVIRONMENTAL falsely and fraudulently listed the name of an employee on a Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest representing that the employee had been working at the San Francisco clandestine drug lab on June 18, 2008. Thereafter, PARC ENVIRONMENTAL filed, maintained and used the false Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest for purposes of compliance with Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act regulations. However, another employee, JEFFREY ALEXANDER LASSOTOVITCH, had been working at the cleanup site under the name of another employee. In fact, LASSOTOVITCH was not authorized to work on DEA clandestine drug lab cleanups.
On August 27, 2008, DEA agents executed a federal search warrant at LASSOTOVITCH’s home in Fresno and discovered that he was in possession of approximately 12 gallons of GHB which he had unlawfully taken from the DEA drug lab clean-up site in San Francisco on June 18, 2008, in order to distribute it. That was the same site in which LASSOTOVITCH was not authorized to work, but where PARC ENVIRONMENTAL falsely stated in a Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest that he was another employee authorized to do so. In a separate case arising out of this investigation, on November 9, 2009, Chief Judge Ishii sentenced LASSOTOVITCH to 37 months in prison for his conviction on an indictment charging him with Possession with the Intent to Distribute Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid (“GHB”) and Aiding and Abetting. GHB is commonly termed the “date rape drug.”
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