County Official Knew About Illegal Asbestos Removal

The former superintendent of buildings and grounds for Cayuga County (NY) may be under federal investigation after he admitted under oath Tuesday that he knew of illegal asbestos removal at the county Board of Elections building, reports the Auburn (NY) Citizen.

Superintendent Ernie DeCaro made the admission during testimony this week at the sentencing hearing of John Chick, a county employee who has admitted to illegally removing asbestos from the Board of Elections building last year. Chick pled guilty earlier this year and was convicted of violating the federal Clean Air Act.

Tuesday’s hearing, notes the newspaper account, was held to determine the extent of Chick’s responsibility for the crime. At this time, no one else has been charged in connection with the asbestos removal, which occurred while an old boiler was being replaced. Environmental officials believe the illegal act caused airborne asbestos fibers to circulate throughout the building.

Federal prosecutors have called Chick an unreliable witness and note that he has not taken full responsibility for his actions.

DeCaro’s admission, however, may throw a monkey wrench into the proceedings. The former superintendent said he knew of Chick’s illegal activity and did not stop him. “I didn’t want to be the one that turned him in,” he said on the stand.

At that point, the judge halted the hearing and advised DeCaro to retain an attorney. The sentencing hearing was rescheduled for late October.

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