Asbestos News: Asbestos Inspector Admits Faking Test Reports

04/16/2010

Mesothelioma News by the Asbestos Lawyers of Cooney & Conway

In a federal courtroom in Manhattan, the owner of a lead and asbestos inspection company admitted to certifying at least seven buildings as toxin-free when, in fact, no testing had ever been conducted.

Saverio “Sam” Todaro, owner of SAF Environmental Corp. of Queens, New York, pleaded guilty March 26 to 11 felony counts-including mail fraud, making false statements, and violating the federal Toxic Substances Control Act-conceding that he had created phony reports by copying official documents and forging the signatures of lab employees. Investigators believe the scam may have started as early as 2005.

Under a plea agreement, prosecutors have recommended that Todaro, 68, serve a sentence of between 51 and 63 months-and pay back more than $300,000 he reaped from the fraud.

That’s little comfort to the residents of the seven buildings. Exposure to asbestos, even for a short time, can cause mesothelioma, a form of cancer that carries a poor prognosis despite treatment with chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation.

While lawyers have secured billions of dollars in asbestos settlements from manufacturers and employers who failed to implement safety measures after the link between asbestos and mesothelioma became known, the cancer itself is difficult to diagnose and often takes decades to develop.

Officials in New York plan to set up a telephone hotline so residents and workers affected by Todaro’s scheme can get more information. At least some of the falsified testing, court filings indicate, was tied to a city-run program for affordable housing.

Pressed for an admission of remorse, Todaro-who arrived at the courthouse breathing from an oxygen tank said only: “I feel bad. I’m sorry I did it, but that’s it.”

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