Contending he had “always been a person who cared about the world,” a Toledo man apologized in federal court Monday for illegally removing and disposing of some 82 bags of asbestos waste from a warehouse.
John J. Mayer, 52, was then sentenced to a year in prison by U.S. District Court Judge James Carr. Mayer, who also was ordered to pay a $2,000 fine, pleaded guilty in July to four counts of violating the Clean Air Act.
Federal prosecutors said that in 2010, Mayer rented space inside a former manufacturing plant where he and workers he hired removed metal bins, boilers, furnaces, and pipes so that he could sell the scrap metal.
In the process, numerous bags of asbestos-containing insulation were removed and some were later found dumped in three neighborhoods in Toledo: an alley off St. Louis Street in East Toledo, a vacant house on Lagrange Street in North Toledo, and at another site on Champlain Street in North Toledo.
By law, such material must be disposed of at a licensed facility, and other procedures must be followed during removal.
Gene Crawford, an assistant U.S. attorney, said prior to sentencing that the neighborhoods where the asbestos was dumped have their own problems and do not need this added health risk.
“They don’t deserve this,” Mr. Crawford said. “If this was Ottawa Hills or some place, you’d probably have a courtroom full of people who would be simply outraged that he would do something like this.”
Mayer told the court he didn’t mean to hurt anyone, and if he had it to do over, he would have gotten the proper EPA permit and followed the law.
“I’m sorry for doing the wrong thing, not just because I got caught, but because it was the wrong thing,” he said.
Judge Carr said that in a city like Toledo where there are so many old buildings and contaminated sites, it’s important the public understands what’s at stake.
“It’s a serious offense, and it’s something that when the government successfully prosecutes someone that the public becomes aware of that and hopefully it deters similar conduct,” the judge said.
A co-defendant, Timothy Bayes, 32, of Toledo pleaded guilty in July to one count of illegal disposal of asbestos. Prosecutors said Bayes, who is to be sentenced Jan. 27, was paid between $150 and $200 by Mayer to dispose of the bags.
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