I had to check out this announcement from the Environmental Protection Agency about a fugitive arrested in the Dominican Republic. I don’t often hear about environmental fugitives. Turns out, Albania Deleon is the EPA’s first female fugitive.
Deleon, 41, was wanted for falsely certifying people to remove asbestos who hadn’t taken the required training. She was convicted in federal court of conspiracy to make false statements, among other charges, but she fled Massachusetts two days before she was scheduled to be sentenced. On Saturday, Dominican law enforcement officials caught her. She had changed her appearance and assumed a false identity.
“Albania Deleon put communities at risk by issuing fraudulent asbestos-removal training certificates to hundreds of untrained workers,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.
Here’s some more about her asbestos scam and the hunt to find her after she fled:
“From approximately 2001 to 2006, Deleon owned and operated Environmental Compliance Training (ECT), a certified asbestos training school located in Methuen, Mass. ECT normally offered training courses on a weekly basis at its offices, however, many of the recipients of the certificates never took the required course. Instead, with Deleon’s knowledge and approval, ECT’s employees issued certificates of course completion to hundreds of individuals who did not take the course. These individuals filed the certificates with the Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety to be authorized to work in the asbestos removal industry. Many of the recipients were illegal aliens who wished to skip the four-day course so that they would not forego pay.
ECT’s training course records were subject to inspection and Deleon sought to cover up ECT’s practice of issuing certificates to untrained applicants by having the applicants sign final examination answer sheets that already had been completed and graded, which she maintained in ECT’s files. Evidence at trial proved that of the all the ECT training certificates issued, approximately 65 percent to 80 percent of the individuals had not taken the necessary training.
Most of these individuals who were not certified were employed by Methuen Staffing, Deleon’s temporary employment agency that specialized in asbestos demolition. She sent the employees to job sites throughout Massachusetts, including the Boston, Worcester and New Bedford-Fall River areas, as well as to New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut and beyond. Deleon paid most of the employees “under-the-table,” and did not withhold taxes. She reported to the Internal Revenue Service and her workers compensation insurance carriers only those employees that actually had taxes withheld, which enabled her to save more than $1 million in tax and insurance payments.
Deleon fled Massachusetts two days before she was scheduled to be sentenced on March 23, 2010. When she failed to appear at the sentencing hearing, United States District Judge Nathaniel Gorton issued a warrant for her arrest. Deleon became the first woman named to EPA’s fugitive list. The U.S. Marshals Service undertook a nationwide search for her, and once it determined that she had fled the country, the U.S. State Department submitted, on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, a request to the Dominican government to arrest and extradite Deleon.”