In 2015, Dr. Richard S. Cutler began renovating a building he had purchased in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to use as a dental office. Despite a prior investigation confirming the presence of asbestos in the building, contractor Jacob Lee Davis began work without conducting proper abatement or taking other measures required by federal law and regulations.
A subsequent investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) confirmed that several workers had been exposed or potentially exposed to asbestos during the renovation project. The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Wyoming then prosecuted Cutler and Davis in related federal cases.
Cutler pled guilty to negligently causing the release of asbestos. On August 26, the Honorable Kelly H. Ranking sentenced Cutler to three years of supervised probation, a $25,000 fine, $2,235 restitution, and a $25 special assessment. As a condition of his probation, Cutler also must perform 120 hours of community service.
Meanwhile, Davis pled guilty to knowingly violating and causing others to violate asbestos work practice standards. On June 9, the Honorable Scott W. Skavdahl sentenced him to three years of supervised probation, a $9,000 fine, and a $100 special assessment. Davis must perform 120 hours of community service as well.
“The results in these cases demonstrate the Department of Justice’s commitment to protecting public health and safety,” said US Attorney Mark A. Klaasen.
“The defendants in these cases causes asbestos to be released, which presented a serious health threat to workers,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Lance Ehrig of the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, Denver Area Office. “The prosecutions in these cases further demonstrate EPA’s commitment to the protection of human health and the environment.”
Asbestos is a hazardous air pollutant, and even short-term exposure can increase a person’s risk of health complications, according to the District of Wyoming US Attorney’s Office. Federal law and regulations impose various obligations on people responsible for demolition or renovation projects at facilities that have asbestos based on the type and quantity of asbestos involved.
In Wyoming, these obligations may include providing written notice to the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) at least 10 working days before disturbing material that contains asbestos. Any owner or contractor with questions about an asbestos-related project is encouraged to contact DEQ for more information.