A man in West Haven, Connecticut, has been sentenced for falsifying asbestos training certifications. Guido Cortes-Rodriguez pleaded guilty to the charge of making a false statement to the federal government.
Cortes-Rodriguez worked as a training manager and instructor at North Star Center for Human Development. Per asbestos laws and regulations, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must approve training courses. North Star did receive approval from the Department of Public Health (DPH) to offer lead and asbestos training courses.
Per requirements, Cortes-Rodriguez let DPH know an asbestos abatement supervisor initial training course and a 32-hour lead abatement worker course would be happening at North Star’s Hartford facility.
Anyone who performs or supervises asbestos abatement activities in Connecticut must be certified and complete an approved 40-hour initial training course to ensure the toxic substance is safely handled.
An undercover FBI agent attempted to enroll in one of the courses, but soon found out no course was being taught, neither on the days he signed up for nor any others for weeks. The agent called and met up with Cortes-Rodriguez who gave a list of items needed for the agent to “get to work.”
These items included name, mailing address, Social Security number, passport-type photos, and $1,260. The agent brought back the items, answered biographical questions, filled out paperwork, and handed over the cash.
In return, he got three fake documents signed by Cortes-Rodriguez that seemingly met all state requirements to perform asbestos work. These included a 40-hour asbestos abatement supervisor initial certification, a 32-hour lead abatement worker initial certification, and an Occupational Safety and Health Administration 10-hour construction safety training course certification.
“Asbestos and lead removal training providers are entrusted with keeping safe the supervisors, workers, and the public that hire them,” said EPA Criminal Investigation Division’s Special Agent Tyler Amon.
According to Amon, “Trainers who cheat and provide false certificates will continue to be a focus for EPA enforcement since they pose too great a risk to the public health.”
Further investigation uncovered the FBI agent was not the first person to receive false asbestos certifications from Cortes-Rodriguez. He will receive two years of probation. For the first six months, he’ll be confined to his home.