The former owner of the largest U.S. asbestos abatement training school has been sentenced to 87 months in prison for running a business built on thousands of untrained, undocumented workers.
Albania Deleon, 42, formerly of Andover, MA, fled the United States after her 2008 trial and eluded capture until October 2010, when she was arrested by authorities in the Dominican Republic. She had changed her appearance and was living under a false name.
Deleon had been convicted in U.S. District Court on more than two dozen counts of mail fraud, tax fraud, conspiracy to make false statements, conspiracy to hire illegal aliens, and other charges.
On Tuesday (Sept. 13), U.S. District Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton sentenced Deleon to 87 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay more than $1.2 million in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service and $369,015 to AIM Mutual Insurance Co.
Authorities said Deleon owned and operated Environmental Compliance Training (ECT), a certified asbestos training school in Methuen, MA, from about 2001 to 2006.
During that time, they said, Deleon sold training completion certificates to more than 2,000 illegal immigrants who had not taken the mandatory four-day training course. Because ECT’s training records were subject to inspection, Deleon had the applicants sign final examination answer sheets that had already been completed and graded.
The workers then filed their certificates with the Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety, so they could be authorized to work in the asbestos removal industry. Deleon then placed them in temporary positions as certified asbestos abatement workers in public buildings throughout Massachusetts and New England.
Deleon was also convicted of encouraging illegal aliens to live in the United States, making false statements about matters within the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), procuring false payroll tax returns, and mail fraud.
‘Justice Was Served’
The victims in the scam were not only the occupants and owners of sites that were improperly inspected, but also the untrained workers who were exposed to asbestos, authorities noted. Any exposure to asbestos is considered unsafe.
“Today, justice was served, and Albania Deleon has finally faced the consequences of her crimes,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “I hope that this sentence sends a strong message to anyone who might contemplate fleeing to avoid punishment: that we do not give up on fugitives, and we will take all necessary means and resources to apprehend and prosecute them,”
Deleon was the fifth environmental criminal captured since the EPA fugitive website was launched in December 2008.
“Today’s sentence marks the final chapter in bringing Albania Deleon to justice,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Committing environmental crimes to make a profit that put workers and our communities at risk carry serious consequences.”