True Crime Stories
18 January, 2023
18 January, 2023
Paint contractor who flouted RRP rule in federal prison
The RRP rule has been in place for quite some time, with serious consequences for contractors and workers who ignore it and expose customers, as well as employees, to harmful effects of lead. Recently, a contractor in Richmond, Indiana was sentenced to 16 months in federal prison for violating the Toxic Substance Control Act, specifically the provisions of the Act concerning lead paint renovations, and for obstructing justice by fabricating records to obstruct a federal grand jury.
According to court records, the contractor had received federal grant money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to mitigate lead paint hazards in older low-to-middle income homes. In federal court, the contractor acknowledged that he and other workers he supervised failed to follow the RRP laws while conducting multiple HUD-funded renovations in Richmond. This included scattering lead paint chips around the properties as well as not cleaning up in a timely fashion. One of the residences was inhabited by a child with elevated blood lead levels, which had prompted the renovation work at that property to begin with.
From there, the contractor acknowledged in court that he had failed to properly train workers on lead abatement procedure, and furthermore falsified records to conceal it, then supplying those false records to the EPA and HUD.
Authorities were not pleased, and made public comments to that effect.
“The defendant created risks by not only failing to follow lead-safe work practices, but also falsely representing to the government their employees had received training,” said Special Agent in Charge Jennifer Lynn of EPA’s criminal investigation program. “Today’s sentencing demonstrates that individuals who intentionally violate environmental laws will be held responsible for their crimes.”
“Protecting families and communities from lead-based paint hazards is one of HUD OIG’s [Office of Inspector General] top priorities,” said Special Agent in Charge Machelle Jindra. “HUD OIG is committed to seeking criminal penalties for those who willfully disregard lead-based paint safety regulations and other violations of Federal law related to HUD programs.”
“This wasn’t simply a situation of an environmental crime. [The contractor’s] behavior had real-life health implications for families in Wayne County,” said Brian Rockensuess Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. “We’re pleased that this investigation has led to a conviction, preventing him and his company from causing further harm.”
The sentence included a $1,000 fine and two years supervision upon release.
'We're just happy he's not out there': Victims of Weathersealed scam rejoice after contractor jailed | News | wkow.com
Swindled customers happy to see their contractor locked up
In Wisconsin, a contractor already the subject of several civil lawsuits was arrested and held without bond due to scamming several families by taking their money and not completing the work. A homeowner couple had invested nearly $40,000 into this contractor for various repaints and remodels, and after completing a bit of work, the contractor stopped showing up and stopped answering calls. There were unpainted doors and walls, and a four foot hole in the backyard where work was begun on a new deck.
This is not by any means the first complaint filed against this contractor, and the article on WKOW.com, in fact, noted that people are “rejoicing” that he is behind bars. A former employee stated that workers were in many instances not paid for their labor, adding that they began to notice as well that customers were getting scammed.
While the contractor had stated over a period of months that he would provide labor to finish the job, nothing happened, and when the homeowners discussed some type of legal mediation regarding the contract, he stopped responding altogether. They despair of ever regaining their money but have hopes that as long as he’s in jail that others won’t suffer a similar swindle.