A business owner pleaded guilty to faking lab results after twice inspecting a university building in South Carolina for asbestos, federal officials said.
His submitted lab results wrongly declared that Anderson University’s Pratt Hall, a residence hall, was asbestos-free when it contained more than 3,600 square feet of the toxic substance, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina. This violated the Clean Air Act. Asbestos is known to cause cancer.
A judge sentenced Brian Thomas Rogers, 53, who owns Rogers Environmental, LLC, to three years of probation and ordered him to pay a $ 25,500 fine after he admitted to manipulating his 2018 asbestos report and digitally altering the original lab results, the office said in a June 24 news release.
“Mr. Rogers acknowledged his mistake but notes that this was a very complicated project and he never had full access to the property like the subsequent company did, ”his attorney, Lowell Bernstein, told McClatchy News in a statement.
On May 1, 2018, Rogers’ company was hired to inspect Pratt Hall by a sub-contractor, and later reported no asbestos was found, the release said. This led to the demolition and renovation of the campus hall because it was believed to be safe from the health hazard.
But the report did not include the results of a required microscopic analysis, which identifies asbestos, according to the indictment.
More than a month after the first inspection, the sub-contractor was removing the floors of a bathroom inside the residence hall when workers found material that was “suspected to contain asbestos.”
Rogers was called back to inspect the residence hall again. And, again, he provided a report that said the hall was asbestos free.
The sub-contractor then ordered its own inspection – which found asbestos.
As a result, a new building inspection company arrived to take their own samples of the building.
The new inspectors found roughly 3,620 square feet of asbestos, according to the release.
Ultimately, Rogers admitted that his original lab report, which found 20% white asbestos, was manipulated to say “none detected,” prosecutors said.
It was not specified if anyone was harmed by the asbestos.
Rogers “is ashamed, embarrassed and apologetic about his conduct in this matter, and he is working to achieve total rehabilitation so that he never again becomes involved in criminal activity,” court documents state.
Rogers gave up his asbestos consultant license, according to a sentencing memorandum.
Rogers’ attorney Bernstein said “the probationary sentence was fair and proper based on numerous mitigating circumstances related to the case and his lack of any criminal history whatsoever.”
Pratt Hall is currently temporarily closed.