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NYC asbestos inspector who faked reports sentenced to five years

A former New York City safety inspector who faked hundreds of asbestos reports was recently sentenced to five years in prison by a federal judge.

Saverio F. Todaro had pleaded guilty in March to a number of fraud charges and environmental crimes in connection with his duties as a safety inspector, according to the New York Times. It was revealed that the ailing 68-year-old had not performed hundreds of asbestos and lead inspections that he claimed to have completed.

In addition, Todaro did not submit the proper laboratory work in a number of cases.

It is vital that asbestos be properly accounted for by inspectors as renovation and demolition work can disturb the dangerous mineral fibers. If these fibers become airborne and are inhaled, it can lead to the development of a number of serious illnesses such as lung cancer, asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma, a rare and deadly cancer that attacks the thin membrane that lines the chest, abdomen and many of the body’s internal organs.

Judge Kimba M. Wood sentenced Todaro to five years and three months in prison for his crimes, which the news source reports is on the high end of the range given in the advisory guidelines.

Wood said that Todaro’s crimes adversely affected a wide range of people.

“The inventiveness of your lies,” she said, “was outstripped only by the callousness with which you put the health and lives of New York City children and adults at risk.”

Todaro’s attorney had argued for home detention for his client, citing his declining health and his mentally retarded 40-year-old son, for whom Todaro helps care.

In a statement to the court, Todaro apologized for his actions and asked to avoid jail time.

“Basically, look, I’m sorry [for] what I did,” he said. “I’m sorry the effect it’s had on my family, my relatives, clients, everybody. I feel really bad about it. And it’s been on my mind.”

“I am sympathetic to everything I’ve done, the people I hurt, but if I go to jail my wife cannot keep the house up, my kid wouldn’t be taken care of. And what else can I say?” he continued.

However, Wood gave him the jail sentence and said that the penalty he would have gotten had it not been for his son or health would have been “much, much higher,” reports the news source.

The judge added that the health of city residents was dependent on inspectors acting honestly and reporting their findings accurately.

“Your sentence needs to send a message to all city inspectors that they are guardians of the public trust and that dishonesty in inspections will be severely punished,” Wood said.

The Times reports that the prosecutors indicated in court papers that it is unclear whether Todaro’s crimes covered up serious health risks.

“It is unknown whether people will get sick as a result of his conduct,” wrote Anne C. Ryan, an assistant in the the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan, reports the news provider. “Among other things, asbestos-related diseases can take decades to develop.”

The news provider reports that Todaro’s case raised concerns about whether other inspectors acted in a similar manner. Partly in reaction to the case, New York City enacted reforms to increase oversight regarding its inspectors.

Such increased oversight may lead to more thorough asbestos inspections, which will likely help protect residents from developing asbestos-related diseases, which the World Health Organization estimates kill 107,000 people each year worldwide.

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