Statements made by asbestos abatement company owner Julie Rosati nearly two years ago are coming back to haunt her legal defense, as charges of asbestos violations mount.
According to police, the owner of AEI Environmental admitted in September 2010 that she knew her company was improperly handling asbestos.
Prosecutors are using Rosati’s own statements to charge her with more than a dozen crimes, including falsifying paperwork and illegal storing asbestos, among others.
Now the business owner is asking the judge to bar prosecutors from using the incriminating statements, claiming the statements to police weren’t accurate.
Rosati, 51, along with her business partner and boyfriend, David Harder Jr., 47, are charged with 12 counts of violating the Massachusetts Clean Air Act, two counts of violating the Massachusetts Solid Waste Act and four counts of evasion of unemployment insurance.
The pair is also being charged with filing false statements for the protection of the environment, not having the proper licenses and failing to notify the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection about their company.
Many of the laws violated by Rosati and Harder were established to prevent asbestos exposure and the diseases that exposure causes, including mesothelioma, lung cancer, pleural plaques, asbestosis and other respiratory conditions.
Sequence of Events
On the morning of Sept. 9, 2010, Massachusetts Environmental Crimes Strike Force investigators searched through two storage units where AEI Environmental illegally stored toxic waste and found hundreds of asbestos-filled bags.
The company was hired to remove asbestos from Marblehead’s Village School, the old Mayflower Hotel in Beverly and the Lynn public library.
Instead of disposing of the asbestos properly, the couple decided to illegally store it at Simply Self Storage.
Environmental Police said Rosati gave a statement that she knew it was not the appropriate way to store asbestos and that the company didn’t have money to pay for proper disposal.
Rosati is arguing that she made such claims during a time of distress. She claims she was distraught from the idea of police rummaging through the belongings of her late mother at the time.
This week Rosati took the stand and claimed that the incriminating statements were inaccurate.
“No, I didn’t tell her there was asbestos in the storage locker,” she said in court.
Rosati and Harder were arraigned in Essex Superior Court on March 18 and each entered a not-guilty plea.
The two are due in court for a pre-trial conference on June 16, when the company is also expected to be arraigned.
Dangers of Improper Handling of Asbestos
Even if done unintentionally, Rosati and Harder’s crimes endangered more than just their freedom.
Storing asbestos in lockers and storage facilities doesn’t eliminate the threat that the substance poses to nearby residents, business occupants or pedestrians.
When inhaled, asbestos fibers get lodged in the lungs or lining of the lungs and gradually scars organ tissue, eventually causing cancer. It can take up to 50 years for the cancerous cells to fully manifest within the human body.
Asbestos does not become hazardous until its fibers are disturbed, which is what occurs when asbestos-containing products are being removed by abatement companies.
Friable asbestos is the most dangerous form because it can quickly become airborne through minimal weathering, normal deterioration or minimal damage. Non-friable asbestos, on the other hand, cannot be crumbled easily and poses less of a threat.
Through the actions of abatement companies, any asbestos-containing material can potentially become dangerous.