CEDAR RAPIDS – An experienced Algona contractor who purchased and renovated the former Kossuth County Home without thoroughly inspecting for asbestos was sentenced February 13, 2019, to two years of probation.
Steven A. Weaver, age 61, from Algona, Iowa, received sentence after an October 11, 2018 guilty plea to one count of violating clean air work practice standards.
In a plea agreement, Weaver admitted he was an experienced contractor and building inspector who had worked for various Iowa municipalities since the early 2000s. During this time, Weaver performed work for the municipalities that was financed by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development through the Iowa Finance Authority. Weaver was responsible for conducting initial inspections of residential properties to determine whether it was cost-effective to rehabilitate each home. In conjunction with this work, Weaver gained experience working with lead and asbestos.
In November 2013, Weaver purchased the former Kossuth County Home in the Algona area. Weaver intended to convert the building into apartments to be known as “The Oasis.” Weaver hired workers to renovate the building. None of these workers were licensed to remove asbestos. Prior to beginning the renovation, Weaver failed to thoroughly inspect the building for asbestos to determine whether it was subject to regulation.
In November 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) searched Weaver’s property and determined piping in the basement contained regulated asbestos. Weaver’s workers had already removed the piping. An EPA agent asked Weaver whether he had notified the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (“IDNR”) before the renovation and, when Weaver indicated he had not, the EPA agent instructed Weaver to report to IDNR. However, Weaver did not notify IDNR. Instead, Weaver continued the renovation operation in late 2014 without properly notifying IDNR.
Weaver was sentenced in Sioux City by United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand. Chief Judge Strand indicated the offense was “aggravating” because Weaver had cut corners on his own renovation project and potentially put his workers at risk of asbestos exposure. Weaver was sentenced to two years of probation, fined $10,000, and ordered to pay costs of prosecution in the amount of $1,573.35.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Tim Vavricek and Matt Cole and investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency.