A Cleveland man who knowingly demolished a building with asbestos was found guilty this week by the U.S. District Court – Northern District of Ohio of violating the Clean Air Act and illegal dumping.
“This is the very first case that the City of Cleveland Environmental Crimes Task Force addressed. This case is the reason the Task Force was organized,” said Mayor Frank G. Jackson. “When addressing sites such as this, the City’s primary course of action is to use all avenues to force the owner, or any other responsible party, to remediate the site. The City has pursued the responsible parties aggressively to ensure they provide full remediation of the site in accordance with federal EPA laws and regulations. The city sought and was granted full restitution from one of the responsible individuals at his sentencing in federal court Friday.”
U.S. District Judge Donald C. Nugent sentenced Christopher L. Gattarello of Cleveland to 57 months in prison. Judge Nugent ordered restitution of $5.9 million to the City of Cleveland to clean the site and nearly $800,000 to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for work it has already done at the site. A second man, Robert A. Shaw, Sr., of Michigan, was sentenced to one year in federal prison.
The property, located on East 131st Street and known as the National Acme facility, is located in a residential area near a school. According to a Department of Justice press release, the building had become overrun with garbage and debris. Gattarello intended to demolish the building and sell its metal as scrap. Claiming there was no asbestos in the building, Gattarello and his associates gave the City of Cleveland notice of demolition.
The City of Cleveland rejected it and stated that the asbestos be removed prior to demolition. The building was demolished anyway, releasing asbestos into the air and leaving asbestos-ridden debris at the site.
The Environmental Crimes Task Force is dedicated to ending illegal dumping, stripping and scrapping. It is a collaboration between the Division of Police and many other City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County departments. Individuals can report instances of illegal dumping, scrapping and stripping to the Cleveland Police by calling 911 if the incident is in progress or 664-DUMP (3867) if the incident has already occurred.
Read more about the case by clicking here.