L.A. Man Sentenced for Endangering People’s Lives with Multiple Unregulated Asbestos Projects
Photo: Stock Image
Written By Barbara Reilley
LOS ANGELES – Toxic airborne asbestos-fibers exposure in violation of the federal Clean Air Act regulations ultimately presented a Los Angeles man a federal prison sentence. According to Congress and the EPA – Inhalation of airborne asbestos fibers has been determined to cause lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma, an invariably fatal disease, with a dire warning that there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos.
Bobby Khalili (46), of Los Angeles, was indicted by a grand jury for failing to safely remove the dangerous asbestos prior to renovation where he was an apartment manager in Las Vegas. He’d pled guilty on March 11th, to failing to safely remove the deadly substance at two of the apartment complexes that he’d managed.
The grand jury had indicted him in both 2019 and 2021 – whereby the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that “The grand jury later returned a superseding indictment against Khalili in July 2021, in connection with new Clean Air Act asbestos violations at a second apartment complex, which Khalili committed while on pretrial release for the first set of charges.”
Khalili had acknowledged, as part of his guilty plea, that he oversaw renovation activities at both complexes on behalf of Las Vegas Apartments LLC. His admission also showed that he’d hired untrained individuals to tear out the toxic asbestos-laden materials – while he was aware of those asbestos-containing items, and not following work-practice standards prescribed by the Clean Air Act.
The DOJ added, “Those work practice standards require that asbestos-containing materials be safely removed prior to general renovation activity taking place. Asbestos-containing materials must be kept wet at all times to prevent dust escaping, sealed in leak-proof bags, and disposed of at facilities authorized to accept asbestos waste. At both apartment buildings, untrained laborers removed asbestos-containing drywall and ceiling texture without wetting or containment, releasing asbestos fibers into the surrounding atmosphere.”
“The defendant placed the public in danger of inhaling asbestos fibers when he failed to follow Clean Air Act regulations,” said U.S. Attorney Jason M. Frierson for the District of Nevada. “This sentence sends a deterrent message that the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our partners will hold accountable individuals who violate federal environmental laws that are designed to protect workers and our communities.”
The absence of safe asbestos removal spurred special agents of the EPA to launch an investigation into the case. Senior Trial Attorney Cassandra Barnum of ENRD’s Environmental Crimes Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jean Ripley and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachel Kent for the District of Nevada prosecuted the case.
Khalili’s recent sentence – one year and one day in prison and 36 months of supervised release -“demonstrates that cutting corners on asbestos abatement will not result in a slap on the wrist,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD). “These are serious offenses with serious consequences, and we will continue to work with EPA and our partners in U.S. Attorneys’ Offices to prosecute violations of the Clean Air Act’s asbestos safety regulations.”