By Eric Freedman
The president of a Toledo development company has received a 30-day jail term and must repay the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for the costs of cleaning up illegally dumped asbestos from a demolition project.
Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Ian English also ordered Donzell Moore to perform 240 hours of community service and placed him on probation — called community control in Ohio — for three years. He had faced up to one year behind bars.
The company, Moorhouse Real Estate Development LLC, also pleaded guilty, was fined $10,750 and is jointly liable with Moore to pay $25,274 restitution to the state EPA.
The charges arose after pipe insulation containing asbestos was discovered in November 2012 illegally dumped on vacant land west of Nature Conservancy property in Monclova Township, the EPA said. The insulation was friable, meaning it could be easily crumbled, releasing asbestos fibers into the air.
“Our investigator spent a couple of months there collecting leads,” EPA press officer Dina Pierce said.
In addition, the agency issued a public request for assistance to identify those responsible for the dumping, resulting in a citizen tip that led to the man who did the actual illegal dumping, a scrap worker named Ronald Gibson.
Pierce said Gibson admitted dumping the contaminated debris both at the outdoor site and in trash bins at a West Toledo apartment complex, according to Pierce. He was sentenced in April to one year in jail, a fine of $750 and restitution of $5,374.
Gibson led investigators to Moore, who had paid him to remove the pipe insulation from the former Champion Spark Plug facility in Toledo in preparation for demolishing a building, authorities said in a statement.
Pierce said Moore’s company was a contractor doing demolition at the time of the illegal dumping. The company later bought the property.
The grand jury indictment alleged that Moore and his company “did recklessly solicit or procure” Gibson to carry out the illegal work
Moore and Moorhouse Development pleaded guilty to felony charges of complicity to engage in asbestos hazard abatement activity without a license and misdemeanor charges of complicity to illegally dispose of construction and demolition debris. Nobody else was charged in the case.
The Northwest Ohio Environmental Crimes Task Force carried out the investigation with assistance from the Toledo Division of Environmental Services and state Health Department’s Environmental Abatement Section. The state Attorney General’s office prosecuted the case.