|TRENTON – Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced that a Woodbridge man has been charged by a state grand jury with dozens of counts of unlicensed asbestos abatement in connection with asbestos work that his unlicensed business performed at numerous schools and homes. The man, who was arrested today, is charged with releasing hazardous asbestos dust and debris at 10 sites, including a daycare center in Union County.
The Division of Criminal Justice Environmental Crimes Unit obtained an indictment charging William T. Muzzio Jr., 50, of Woodbridge, with 10 counts of unlawful release of a toxic pollutant (2nd degree), 36 counts of violating the Asbestos Control and Licensing Act (removing or encapsulating asbestos without a license) (3rd degree), one count of theft by deception (3rd degree), and two counts of uttering a forged document (3rd degree). The indictment was returned yesterday, and Muzzio was arrested today by detectives of the Division of Criminal Justice. He was lodged in the Union County Jail with bail set at $75,000.
“By allegedly performing unlicensed and unsafe asbestos removal at a daycare center, this defendant could have put young children and staff at risk,” said Attorney General Chiesa. “Fortunately, state officials discovered the problem and it was quickly addressed. Muzzio was well aware of the dangers posed by asbestos and the fact that a licensed professional must remove it, but we allege that he repeatedly ignored those dangers and risked exposing school children and residents across New Jersey in order to enrich himself.”
“We allege that this unlicensed operator engaged in asbestos abatement using improper and unsafe procedures, resulting in releases of hazardous asbestos-containing material,” said Director Stephen J. Taylor of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We will continue to work closely with other state agencies to identify and aggressively prosecute any dishonest operator who violates the laws that are in place in New Jersey to protect the public’s health and the environment.”
The state began investigating Muzzio and his business, Citadel Environmental Consultants, in March 2012, after a daycare facility in Union Township (Union County), the Townley School, hired Muzzio to remove pipe insulation containing asbestos from its basement boiler room. The state Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) had inspected the facility and notified its operators that damaged insulation needed to be repaired or removed prior to renewal of the facility’s license. After Muzzio performed asbestos removal at the facility in February 2012, DHSS checked with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development and learned that Muzzio was not licensed to perform asbestos abatement, as required by law. The Department of Labor referred the matter to the Division of Criminal Justice.
The Department of Labor and Division of Criminal Justice conducted inspections in March at the daycare facility and allegedly discovered dust and debris containing asbestos in the boiler room and an adjacent crawl space. Muzzio is charged with unlawful release of a toxic pollutant in connection with the daycare facility. The facility immediately hired a licensed contractor to properly complete the asbestos abatement.
The Division of Criminal Justice expanded the investigation and identified 35 other sites, including 13 schools, an apartment complex and 21 homes, where Muzzio allegedly performed unlicensed asbestos abatement between April 2011 and May 2012. He allegedly caused the unlawful release of asbestos at nine homes, where later testing allegedly identified remaining “friable” asbestos, meaning asbestos-containing material that, when dry, may be crumbled, pulverized or reduced to powder by hand. Those homes, which are listed in the indictment, are in Middlesex, Union, Essex and Hudson counties. He is also alleged to have performed unlicensed asbestos abatement in Morris, Hunterdon, Warren, Monmouth and Ocean counties.
Muzzio allegedly performed unlicensed asbestos work at nine schools in the Woodbridge School District, which are also listed in the indictment. In each of those schools, rather than removing asbestos, he was hired to “encapsulate” – meaning to seal in – insulation containing asbestos to prevent it from breaking and releasing asbestos. In the four other schools listed in the indictment, he allegedly removed non-friable asbestos floor tiles.
Muzzio is charged with theft by deception in connection with four instances when he allegedly misrepresented to clients that he was properly licensed in order to secure their business and payment for asbestos abatement. He is charged with two counts of uttering a forged document for allegedly presenting a false asbestos license from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development to two individuals who hired him.
Deputy Attorney General Mary Erin McAnally presented the case to the state grand jury. The investigation was conducted for the Environmental Crimes Unit, within the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau, by Detective Matthew Schneiderman, Sgt. Steven Ogulin, Detective Michael Klumpp, Detective Dawn Ryan, Detective Kelly Howard, Detective Cecil Boone, Detective Christian Harden, Intern Michael Monahan, Deputy Attorney General McAnally and Supervising Deputy Attorney General Betty Rodriguez. The matter was referred to the Division of Criminal Justice by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The Woodbridge Police Department assisted in executing a search warrant at Muzzio’s home, and the New Jersey State Police assisted in analyzing computer evidence at the Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory.
Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. The third-degree offense of violating the Asbestos Control and Licensing Act carries a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. The other third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000. The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Union County, where Muzzio will be ordered to appear on the charges.