Asbestos-removal trainer pleads guilty to fraud

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A former asbestos-removal trainer pleaded guilty in San Diego Wednesday to falsely certifying scores of workers as qualified to safely remove the cancer-causing substance from buildings.

Lachelle Rene Thrower, 44, admitted to granting 100 to 150 training certificates to people who did not attend required training courses or take a necessary exam. The offenses took place over a roughly four-year period, beginning in May 2010, according to federal prosecutors.

The phony approvals led her employer, an official provider of asbestos-removal training, to falsely report to the state that trainees had attended the course and passed the exam. In addition, Thrower kept fees paid by students instead of providing the money to the company she worked for, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

All told, she caused a financial loss to her employer of $10,000 to $30,000, prosecutors said.

Training for asbestos-abatement professionals is required under the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act of 1986, as well as the Toxic Substances Control Act, which prohibits removal by anyone but specialists trained under an EPA-approved program, or a state program accredited by the EPA.

Thrower faces up to five years in custody and a $250,000 fine at her Feb. 17 sentencing.

Categories: KUSI