Contractor pleads guilty after illegally removing asbestos

An Indianapolis contractor was sentenced to four months of house arrest and two years of probation after pleading guilty Monday in federal court to illegally removing asbestos from an inhabited apartment building.

56-year-old Paul Walker will also pay a $2,000 fine as part of his sentencing.

According to United States Attorney Josh Minkler, Walker was performing maintenance and renovation work on an apartment building located at 38th St. and Central Ave in 2015. That work involved removing asbestos insulation from piping and a boiler in the building’s basement.

Minkler said that despite Walker telling the building owner that he would use a subcontractor licensed in asbestos abatement, he instead removed the asbestos himself, putting residents in the building at risk for exposure to harmful asbestos fibers.

According to a release, Federal law describes in detail how asbestos must be safely removed and disposed. Those procedures were not used in this instance.

Later testing showed that although the asbestos fibers did not reach the inhabited floors of the building, Walker’s actions placed residents at risk of exposure. That led to Walker being prosecuted for Negligent Endangerment under the federal Clean Air Act.

The asbestos was later properly removed by a professional abatement firm, at Walker’s expense.

“Asbestos is a dangerous substance and putting people at risk by illegally removing it is a federal crime,” Minkler said.  “If you must remove asbestos, do it the right way and follow the law.  If you cut corners to try to save a buck, you will be caught and prosecuted.”


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