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2012 Attorney General Press Releases

For Immediate release – January 23, 2012

Property Owner and Heating Contractor Indicted for Allegedly Illegally Removing Asbestos From Medway Rental Property

DEDHAM — A property owner from Weston and a Plainville-based heating contractor have been indicted in connection with the alleged improper removal of asbestos in a single-family rental property in Medway, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

David Einis, age 58, and Nicholas Pasquantonio, age 41, were each indicted on two counts of violating the Massachusetts Clean Air Act for failure to file a notice of asbestos removal with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and failure to prevent asbestos emissions.  Nicholas Pasquantonio was also indicted on charges of witness intimidation.  Authorities allege the asbestos containing insulation was from heating pipes in an occupied Medway rental property owned by Einis, which was released when the boiler was being replaced by Pasquantonio.

“Asbestos is a hazardous material and it is extremely important for companies and individuals to follow guidelines for reporting and removing asbestos in order to prevent people from being exposed to this toxin,” AG Coakley said.  “Our office remains committed to upholding the law to make sure no shortcuts are taken at the expense of public safety.”

“MassDEP worked closely with the Medway Board of Health in following up on the discovery, and further addressing the violations that were found at the site,” said MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth L. Kimmell.  “This enforcement sends a strong message that rules to protect public health, which include asbestos removal and disposal, must be followed.”

According to authorities, in December 2010, Einis hired Pasquantonio of Johnny’s Oil Service, Inc., who is not a licensed asbestos contractor, to replace the boiler in the Medway property occupied by a family with several children.  Pasquantonio allegedly did not seal off the basement while he worked to replace the boiler.  After being notified by the Medway Board of Health a few days later, MassDEP inspected the site and allegedly found the improper removal and release of asbestos.

Authorities allege that Einis and Pasquantonio failed to notify MassDEP that they would be disturbing asbestos when replacing the boiler and did not follow the appropriate procedures to prevent asbestos emissions.  The Department of Labor Standards requires that the removal of asbestos be performed by a licensed contractor, and pursuant to MassDEP regulations, contractors must provide notification of when the removal will occur and follow certain methods and standards for the safe removal, storage, and disposal of the asbestos throughout the abatement process.

Authorities also allege that when Pasquantonio became aware he might be charged criminally, he went to the property where the illegal asbestos removal had occurred and threatened one of the tenants not to testify against him at trial.

The charges are the result of an investigation by the Massachusetts Environmental Strike Force, an interagency unit which is overseen by AG Coakley, MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth L. Kimmell, and Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan, Jr.  The Strike Force consists of prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office, Environmental Police Officers assigned to the Attorney General’s Office, and investigators and engineers from the MassDEP who investigate and prosecute crimes that harm or threaten the state’s water, air, or land and that pose a significant threat to human health.

A Norfolk County Grand Jury returned indictments against Einis and Pasquantonio on January 19, 2012.  The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned in Norfolk Superior Court at a later date.

Members of the public who have information regarding a potential environmental crime are encouraged to contact the MassDEP Environmental Strike Force Hotline at 1-888-VIOLATE (846-5283) or the Attorney General’s Office at 617-727-2200.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Andrew Rainer of AG Coakley’s Environmental Crimes Strike Force, with assistance from officers of the Massachusetts Environmental Police and Gregory Levins of the Central Regional Office of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

 

For Immediate release – March 13, 2012

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley ...

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley speaking at Faneuil Hall in Boston (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Landlord Ordered to Remove Lead Paint and End Discriminatory, Threatening Conduct

AG’s Office Obtains Court Order Against Landlord Alleged To Have Threatened Tenant About Immigration Status, Evicted Others That Complained About Sanitary Conditions

BOSTON – A Boston area landlord has been ordered to cease violating state housing laws after allegedly threatening tenants who complained about unsanitary and unsafe conditions, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today. Keith L. Miller of Newton allegedly threatened one tenant over their immigration status and others after they complained about property conditions.

The preliminary injunction was issued last week by Suffolk Superior Court in a pending housing discrimination case against Miller who owns 24 units in Chelsea, Newton, Boston and Arlington. The court order requires Miller to remove lead paint hazards from his units, to refrain from discriminating against tenants who have young children and to stop retaliating against his tenants for complaining about unsafe conditions.

“We want to ensure that tenants have access to safe housing and are not threatened or evicted when they complain about living conditions,” AG Coakley said. “This case is of particular importance because the safety of young children is at risk and the landlord has been uncooperative. We allege that this landlord engaged in a pervasive pattern of retaliatory and coercive conduct directed at tenants who raised concerns about unsafe conditions.”

The AG’s Office filed a lawsuit against Miller in February 2011 alleging numerous violations relating to three former tenants. According to the lawsuit, two tenants were evicted shortly after giving birth because their apartments were not deleaded and the third was evicted after requesting a lead paint inspection by the Department of Public Health (“DPH”), which ultimately found violations in the unit. State law requires landlords to abate lead paint hazards in apartments where children under the age of six reside.

Since it was first filed, the AG’s case has expanded significantly based on information obtained through further investigation. According to the amended complaint filed last month, Miller evicted or threatened to evict tenants with young children, rented apartments containing lead paint to tenants with young children, failed to remove lead hazards in those apartments, failed to provide proper notice of lead hazards to his tenants and made misrepresentations regarding the presence of lead paint in his apartments. In one instance, Miller allegedly attempted to force a tenant to pay for the lead paint abatement required by DPH.

It is also alleged that Miller refused to repair unsafe and unsanitary conditions, that he used threats, intimidation, and coercion to interfere with the rights of his tenants, and that he retaliated against tenants when they reported suspected violations of the law to city and state officials. Among other things, after several tenants requested health code inspections, Miller allegedly made inquiries and threatening comments about one tenant’s immigration status and threatened other tenants with the loss of their housing vouchers.

The preliminary injunction orders Miller to take several steps to ensure ongoing compliance with the law. Among other things, the order mandates that he:

  • Notify the AG’s Office of any eviction action he initiates against a tenant;
  • Provide to the AG’s Office information about all prospective tenants who apply for available rental units;
  • Consent to lead paint inspections of units with children under six currently residing in them; and
  • Refrain from using threats, intimidation, or coercion to interfere with or attempt to interfere with the rights of his tenants.

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Jonathan Miller and Omar Gonzalez-Pagan of AG Coakley’s Civil Rights Division, with assistance from Kristen Metzger of the Investigations Division.

 

For Immediate release – March 28, 2012

Court Orders Up to $80,000 in Civil Penalties for

Four Companies after Improper Asbestos Removal

Work Done as Part of Former Sun Newspaper Building Conversion to Condominiums

BOSTON – Four companies have been ordered to pay the Commonwealth up to $80,000 in civil penalties for the improper removal and disposal of asbestos-containing pipe insulation and ceiling tiles at the former Lowell Sun newspaper building in Kearney Square, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

“Our office is committed to enforcing the state’s environmental laws and pursuing those who put workers and the public at risk by failing to control the release of dangerous asbestos fibers,” AG Coakley said. “Property managers, owners and contractors must take the proper precautions to ensure the containment of asbestos at all times.”

“Asbestos abatement work must be done in a manner that is protective of workers and public health,” said Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell. “Our asbestos inspectors, investigators and legal staff will hold responsible those who fail to ensure that asbestos abatement work is done in compliance with applicable regulations.”

According to the complaint filed today in Suffolk Superior Court, JDL Incorporated of Dracut, Sun Building, Kearney Square Properties and TopNotch Homes, all limited liability companies in Tewksbury, violated the state’s Clean Air Act by removing and disposing of asbestos-containing pipe insulation and ceiling tiles without using proper containment procedures to prevent the release of asbestos. The companies also allegedly failed to provide the required notifications to the Department of Environmental Protection (“MassDEP”).

The demolition work was performed as part of the conversion of The Sun (Lowell) newspaper building to condominiums in February 2009. Because of the health risks associated with the release of asbestos fibers, the law requires strict adherence to air pollution control methods when someone proposes to perform asbestos abatement work in the Commonwealth.

The settlement, also filed and approved by the court today, requires the current owners of the property (Sun Building and Kearney Square Properties) and their demolition contractor (JDL, Inc.) to pay a civil penalty of $80,000 for the alleged violations, $30,000 of which may be forgiven if the defendants comply with the judgment in the case. The Sun newspaper moved from the location in 2007 and is not involved in the alleged violations and is therefore not a party to the lawsuit.

MassDEP shut down the demolition operation when the agency learned of the violations and required that the defendants immediately contain the asbestos. The developer complied with MassDEP’s demand that it hire a licensed abatement firm to fully secure and properly dispose of the material. As a result of the prompt response by MassDEP, it is believed that the asbestos was properly contained and disposed of soon after the material was removed from the building.

Assistant Attorney General Andrew Goldberg, of Coakley’s Environmental Protection Division, is representing the Commonwealth in the litigation. Attorney Colleen McConnell is handling the case for MassDEP, along with environmental analysts John MacAuley and Karen Golden-Smith of MassDEP’s Northeast Regional Office.

 

For Immediate release – April 02, 2012

Middleborough Landowner Agrees to Clean Up Oil

Spill, Pay $38,000 for Delay

BOSTON – A settlement has been reached with a Middleborough property owner to ensure that oil and hazardous material released on site has been properly cleaned up and does not present a risk to human health and the environment, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.  The settlement is part of an ongoing effort by the Attorney General’s Office and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to force the cleanup of hazardous sites in accordance with the Commonwealth’s environmental laws.

Under the settlement filed in Suffolk Superior Court, James H. Pollack, Jr. must pay a $38,000 civil penalty to the Commonwealth for ignoring MassDEP’s clean-up order and for violating the Massachusetts Oil and Hazardous Material Release Prevention and Response Act.

“The law requires individuals responsible for the release of oil or hazardous material into the environment to conduct and pay for the cleanup of their contaminated properties in accordance with the Commonwealth’s environmental laws,” AG Coakley said.

“Whenever companies or individuals are found responsible for contamination, and repeatedly try to avoid their obligation to clean up oil and hazardous materials, we will work with the state’s Attorney General, so that the proper cleanup is done, penalties are issued, and taxpayers won’t have to bear the cost of another cleanup,” said Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner, Kenneth Kimmell.

According to the lawsuit, the Middleborough property was formerly used for manufacturing.  The property was the site of an oil spill from an underground tank, resulting in the release of gallons of oil into the environment.  Soil and groundwater samples taken from the property confirmed that oil and other hazardous materials had contaminated the site.  Following an environmental assessment report, MassDEP confirmed the release of hazardous material on the property and listed the site on the Transition List.

The lawsuit further alleges that despite repeated compliance demands from MassDEP, Pollok ignored orders to clean up the release of oil from his property that contaminated the surrounding soil and groundwater.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Matthew Brock and Paralegal Jennifer Faillace of Attorney General Coakley’s Environmental Protection Division, and John Handrahan, from MassDEP’s Southeast Regional Office, and Rebecca Tobin, from MassDEP’s Office of General Counsel.

 

For Immediate release – April 06, 2012

Worcester Based Real Estate Developer Arrested,

Arraigned for Stealing Tens of Thousands of Dollars

from Investors

BOSTON – A Worcester based real estate developer and contractor has been arrested and arraigned on larceny and securities fraud charges in connection with $195,000 he accepted  from investors for the agreed upon purpose of developing commercial real estate in Leicester, Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office announced today.  He was also arraigned in connection with several tax charges.

Edward Kooyomjian, Sr., of West Boylston, was arrested by Massachusetts State Police assigned to the AG’s Office without incident yesterday at his home in West Boylston.

Kooyomjian was subsequently arraigned in Worcester Superior Court on the charges of Larceny over $250 from a Person Over 60 (2 counts) and Fraudulent Sales of Securities (2 counts).  Kooyomjian was also arraigned on the charges of Larceny by False Pretenses Relating to Credit, Making and Subscribing False Tax Returns (3 counts), and Failing to File Corporate Business Excise Returns (15 counts).  Kooyomjian entered a plea of not guilty on all charges and was released on personal recognizance, under the condition he surrender his passport and waive any extradition proceedings.

In June 2011, the AG’s Office began an investigation after multiple individuals filed complaints with the AG’s Office and the Secretary of State’s Office regarding the alleged larceny.  Authorities allege that Kooyomjian accepted $195,000 from two investors for the purpose of investing in a commercial real estate project in Leicester and that he issued stock to those investors in a development corporation, 67 South Main Street Leicester Corp., created for the project.  Investigation revealed that Kooyomjian exhausted those investments before anything was built, and authorities allege he used much of the money to cover expenses unrelated to the project, including personal expenses.

Kooyomjian faces charges of Failing to File Corporate Business Excise Returns in connection with three real estate development companies he formed between 2005 and 2007, for which he allegedly did not file corporate business excise returns.  He is charged with Making and Subscribing False Tax Returns in connection with his alleged failure to report over $400,000 of income.  Kooyomjian is also charged with Larceny by False Pretenses Relating to Credit in connection with his use of funds from a 2007 commercial line of credit to cover personal expenses.

A Worcester County Grand Jury returned indictments against Kooyomjian on February 16, 2012.  Kooyomjian was arrested on April 5, 2012 and subsequently arraigned in Worcester Superior Court.  Judge Janet Kenton-Walker presided over the arraignment.   Kooyomjian is due back in Worcester Superior Court on May 1, 2012, for a pre-trial hearing.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Gillian Feiner and Andrew Doherty, both of AG Coakley’s Fraud and Financial Crimes Division, with assistance from Investigator Kevin Cwirka, also from the AG’s Office, the State Police from the AG’s Office, Investigators from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, and the Secretary of State’s Securities Division.

 

For Immediate release – April 18, 2012

Property Owner Indicted for Allegedly

Ordering Unsafe and Illegal Removal of Asbestos

From Springfield Rental Property

Property owner paid tenants to remove asbestos without providing proper equipment, warning of dangers, or removal training

SPRINGFIELD — A North Grafton property owner has been indicted in connection with paying two of her tenants to improperly remove asbestos from her Springfield rental property, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.  The property owner allegedly failed to warn the tenants of the dangers associated with asbestos and did not ensure that they had proper protective equipment or training of removal procedures.

Susan B. Nissenbaum, age 59, was indicted by a Hampden County Grand Jury on three counts of violating the Massachusetts Clean Air Act for failure to file a notice of asbestos removal with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), improper asbestos removal, and improper asbestos storage.

“We allege that this defendant put her tenants at risk by having them unsafely remove asbestos from the property and failing to warn them of the dangers involved,” AG Coakley said.  “Our office remains committed to upholding environmental laws to prevent people from taking shortcuts that may endanger the health and safety of others.”

“MassDEP provides licensed contractors with ample guidance and information, so that compliance with proper removal and disposal concerning asbestos should be standard procedure,” said MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell. “For those who try to circumvent that process, they not only put the health and safety of workers and nearby residents in jeopardy, but they will most assuredly be looking at elevated enforcement and that could include loss of license, a financial penalty and even criminal charges.”

According to authorities, in April 2010, Nissenbaum paid two of her tenants to remove asbestos siding from the single-family rental property in Springfield that they were living in and store it on the property.  Authorities allege that although Nissenbaum knew that the siding contained asbestos, she did not inform her tenants how asbestos needed to be handled and failed to ensure that they had the proper training or equipment to do so.  Nissenbaum allegedly failed to ensure that the tenants follow proper procedures to prevent asbestos fibers from being released into the air.  Further investigation revealed that Nissenbaum had the asbestos containing materials stored improperly at the property in torn bags.  As a result, authorities allege that the tenants, their children, and others were exposed to asbestos.  Nissenbaum also allegedly failed to notify MassDEP before commencing work on the project.

In November 2010, after being contacted by a licensed asbestos contractor, MassDEP inspected the site and found the alleged improper removal, storage and release of asbestos.  The Department of Labor Standards requires that the removal of asbestos be performed by a licensed contractor, and pursuant to MassDEP regulations, contractors must provide notification of when the removal will occur and follow certain methods and standards for the safe removal, storage, and disposal of the asbestos throughout the abatement process.

The charges are the result of an investigation by the Massachusetts Environmental Strike Force, an interagency unit which is overseen by AG Coakley, MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth L. Kimmell, and Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan, Jr.  The Strike Force consists of prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office, Environmental Police Officers assigned to the Attorney General’s Office, and investigators and engineers from the MassDEP who investigate and prosecute crimes that harm or threaten the state’s water, air, or land and that pose a significant threat to human health.

A Hampden County Grand Jury returned indictments against Nissenbaum on April 12, 2012.  Nissenbaum is scheduled to be arraigned in Hampden Superior Court at a later date.

Members of the public who have information regarding a potential environmental crime are encouraged to contact the MassDEP Environmental Strike Force Hotline at 1-888-VIOLATE (846-5283) or the Attorney General’s Office at 617-727-2200.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Andrew Rainer of AG Coakley’s Environmental Crimes Strike Force, with assistance from officers of the Massachusetts Environmental Police and Brian Bordeaux of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

 

For Immediate release – July 06, 2012

Landlords Settle Claims of Housing Discrimination

Landlords Accused of Refusing to Rent to Families with Children Agree to Remove Lead Paint from Rental Properties

BOSTON – Multiple landlords have settled allegations that they refused to rent to families with children in order to avoid obligations to remove lead paint hazards, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

Under state law, it is illegal to discriminate against housing applicants because they have children or because the rental would require the landlord to abate lead hazards.

“The Commonwealth’s lead paint law protects children from the damaging effects of lead, which include impaired development, learning difficulties, and behavior problems,” AG Coakley said. “By enforcing this law our office works to ensure that families with children are able to find lead-safe housing within the Commonwealth.”

Celina Puszko and Alojzy Jackiewicz

According to the complaint filed on June 22, in Suffolk Superior Court, Dorchester property owners Celina Puszko and Alojzy Jackiewicz discriminated against families with children under the age of six by refusing to rent to them in order to avoid their obligation to abate lead paint hazards. Along with the complaint, the parties filed a consent judgment, which was entered by Judge D. Lloyd MacDonald on July 3. The consent judgment requires Puszko and Jackiewicz to delead at least one of their three rental units in Dorchester, to attend fair housing training, and to pay $3,000 in restitution and penalties.

Gregory Howell and Scott Michels

According to the assurance of discontinuance filed on June 25, Gregory Howell and Scott Michels, who jointly own four rental properties in Bourne, Wareham, and Fairhaven, posted a discriminatory advertisement for one of their Wareham properties on the website Craigslist.org. The advertisement specifically stated that certain families with young children were not eligible to rent the advertised rental property because the property had not been deleaded. Under the terms of the assurance, Howell and Michels agreed to attend fair housing training, delead the property, and pay a penalty of $3,000 to the Commonwealth.

These matters were handled by Assistant Attorney General Genevieve C. Nadeau of AG Coakley’s Civil Rights Division.

 

 

For Immediate release – August 06, 2012

Real Estate Management Firm Sued for Housing Discrimination

Property Manager Accused of Refusing Housing to Recipient of Federal Housing Assistance

BOSTON – A Boston-based real estate management company, its property manager, and an Arlington property owner have been sued for violating the state’s anti-discrimination law for allegedly refusing to rent to a recipient of a federal housing subsidy, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

Under state law, it is illegal to discriminate against housing applicants because they receive public assistance.

“We are facing critical affordable housing needs in the Commonwealth and the strain on those needing rental or transitional housing assistance is particularly great,” AG Coakley said.  “Discrimination against those receiving housing assistance subsidies is illegal and realtors, brokers and landlords must operate within the bounds of the law.”

According to the complaint filed in Middlesex Superior Court against The Hamilton Company, Inc., Nostalgia Properties LLC, and Nicholas Rivers, the defendants allegedly refused to rent to a prospective tenant because he intended to use a Section 8 affordable housing voucher to pay for the rent.

The Hamilton Company is a full-service real estate management firm with a portfolio of more than 60 residential properties in Massachusetts, including a rental apartment complex on Brattle Drive in Arlington, owned by Nostalgia Properties. According to the complaint Rivers, the Hamilton Company’s property manager, placed several advertisements for available one-bedroom rental units at the complex in November 2011. On two separate occasions, Rivers withheld information about available rental units and failed to negotiate with a prospective tenant who informed him that he had a Section 8 voucher.

Housing discrimination includes refusing to rent or sell, failing or refusing to negotiate, withholding information about available housing accommodations, falsely representing that housing accommodations are unavailable, or imposing different terms or conditions for housing accommodations.

The AG’s Office filed the complaint after the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) found probable cause that the defendants had unlawfully discriminated against the prospective tenant. The AG’s Office is responsible for enforcing fair housing laws and prosecuting housing discrimination cases following probable cause determinations from the MCAD.

The AG’s Office is seeking injunctive relief, damages for the victim, and punitive damages.

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Genevieve C. Nadeau of AG Coakley’s Civil Rights Division.

For Immediate release – August 22, 2012

Owner of Pocasset Mobile Home Park Ordered to Pay $250,000 Civil Penalty and More Than $2.7 Million to Construct New Sewage Treatment System

BOSTON – The owner of the Pocasset Mobile Home Park in Bourne has been ordered to pay a $250,000 civil penalty and transfer more than $2.7 million to fund the construction of a new sewage collection system and wastewater treatment facility after failing to upgrade the deteriorating septic system, according to Attorney General Martha Coakley.

“The park owner’s refusal to comply with the terms of the court’s preliminary injunction put the health of the residents and the environment at risk,” Attorney General Martha Coakley said. ”We are very pleased with the court’s decision to order him to pay $250,000 in civil penalties and more than $2 million for the construction of a new sewage treatment system. This is long overdue, and we are proud that the residents and the neighboring community will finally see a resolution to what has been an extremely stressful situation.”

“This Court Order reflects the seriousness of the violations, and demonstrates the ability of this agency to respond to citizen concerns,” said Martin Suuberg, acting regional director of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s (MassDEP) Southeast Regional Office in Lakeville. “After a long investigation by MassDEP, and a lengthy court wrangle, the citizens of the Pocasset Mobile Home Park can know their voices were heard.”

As a result of owner Charles W. Austin’s failure to comply with court orders, there have been repeated sewage overflows from the septic system on the property and to the yards of nearby residents, putting their health and safety at risk of exposure to untreated sewage. Since February 2011, the Pocasset Mobile Home Park has been operated and managed by a court-appointed receiver because Austin refused to pump and maintain the septic system.

After a request by the AG’s Office in June, the court entered a final judgment earlier this month, ordering the receiver to construct the new sewage treatment system. Austin was ordered to pay a $250,000 civil penalty and fund $2,767,883 for the construction. The AG’s Office brought this action on behalf of the MassDEP.

Last August, the court issued an order, entered by Judge Bonnie MacLeod, that found the Charles W. Austin Trust, which holds the title to the property, and Pocasset Mobile Home Park, LLC, which operates the manufactured housing community, liable for violating the Massachusetts Clean Waters Act and the Consumer Protection Act by failing to pump and maintain the septic system, despite being issued a permit by MassDEP in May 2007 that required the upgrade.

In addition to entering the final judgment, the court also adopted the AG’s findings of fact filed in June 2012.  The court specifically found the following facts:

  • Austin knew that the septic system was in non-compliance with current law and instructed his employees and contractors not to move forward with the investigation and repair of various sections of the septic system’s collection system and piping.
  • The operation of the existing septic system in violation of MassDEP’s Permit requirement to construct a new sewage treatment system has endangered-and continues to endanger-the health and welfare of the residents of the Pocasset Mobile Home Park.
  • The overflows in the residential areas of the Park have been ongoing as a result of clogging and deterioration of pipes.
  • The septic tanks are grossly undersized for the wastewater flows produced at the mobile home park.
  • Inadequately treated sewage contains organisms that can carry waterborne diseases and can be transferred upon physical contact with sewage.
  • The Defendants have received substantial economic benefit by having avoided paying the annual operating cost of the new sewage treatment system for each year that they have failed to comply with MassDEP’s Permit requirement to build the new system.

Assistant Attorney General Tracy Triplett from Attorney General Coakley’s Environmental Protection Division is handling this case, with assistance from Shaun Walsh of MassDEP’s Office of General Counsel and MassDEP engineers Brian Dudley and Christos Dimisioris.  The Bourne Board of Health has also provided valuable assistance in investigating the case.

For Immediate Release – April 02, 2012

Middleborough Landowner Agrees to Clean Up Oil Spill, Pay $38,000 for Delay

BOSTON – A settlement has been reached with a Middleborough property owner to ensure that oil and hazardous material released on site has been properly cleaned up and does not present a risk to human health and the environment, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.  The settlement is part of an ongoing effort by the Attorney General’s Office and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to force the cleanup of hazardous sites in accordance with the Commonwealth’s environmental laws. 

Under the settlement filed in Suffolk Superior Court, James H. Pollack, Jr. must pay a $38,000 civil penalty to the Commonwealth for ignoring MassDEP’s clean-up order and for violating the Massachusetts Oil and Hazardous Material Release Prevention and Response Act.  

“The law requires individuals responsible for the release of oil or hazardous material into the environment to conduct and pay for the cleanup of their contaminated properties in accordance with the Commonwealth’s environmental laws,” AG Coakley said. 

“Whenever companies or individuals are found responsible for contamination, and repeatedly try to avoid their obligation to clean up oil and hazardous materials, we will work with the state’s Attorney General, so that the proper cleanup is done, penalties are issued, and taxpayers won’t have to bear the cost of another cleanup,” said Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner, Kenneth Kimmell.

According to the lawsuit, the Middleborough property was formerly used for manufacturing.  The property was the site of an oil spill from an underground tank, resulting in the release of gallons of oil into the environment.  Soil and groundwater samples taken from the property confirmed that oil and other hazardous materials had contaminated the site.  Following an environmental assessment report, MassDEP confirmed the release of hazardous material on the property and listed the site on the Transition List.  

The lawsuit further alleges that despite repeated compliance demands from MassDEP, Pollok ignored orders to clean up the release of oil from his property that contaminated the surrounding soil and groundwater. 

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Matthew Brock and Paralegal Jennifer Faillace of Attorney General Coakley’s Environmental Protection Division, and John Handrahan, from MassDEP’s Southeast Regional Office, and Rebecca Tobin, from MassDEP’s Office of General Counsel.

For Immediate Release – May 10, 2012

Asbestos Removal Company to Pay $150,000 After Improper Removal at Gardner Senior Center

Environmental Restoration Services Corp. Dumped Asbestos in Senior Center Parking Lot Without Proper Containment

BOSTON – An asbestos removal company, and its president, will pay $150,000 in civil penalties for improperly removing asbestos during the renovation of a Gardner senior center in June 2009, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

“Those who improperly remove and handle asbestos create a potential serious health risk to the asbestos handlers and to the general public,” said AG Coakley. “We will not tolerate companies that cut corners when removing this harmful substance and endanger the health and safety of those in the surrounding area.”

The court entered a final judgment on May 3 after a complaint was filed in Suffolk Superior Court in March 2011. The complaint alleged that the Environmental Restoration Services Corporation, a licensed asbestos removal contractor, and Jorge Elias, its president, engaged in the illegal removal of asbestos-containing materials from the Gardner Senior Center during its renovation without approval or authorization from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP).

According to the complaint, the defendants completely gutted the first floor of the senior center and partially removed vinyl asbestos floor tiles from the basement as well as asbestos adhesives. Afterward, they allegedly disposed the asbestos containing materials on the ground and in an open-top trash container in the senior center’s parking lot. The defendants allegedly did not cover, contain, wet, label, or seal the asbestos that was stored in the container or on the ground as required by state law.

“Licensed asbestos contractors know the dangers posed by exposure to asbestos and that proper removal, handling and disposal procedures are in place to safeguard the health of workers and the general public,” said MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell. “Significant penalties will be levied on those who fail to follow those procedures. It doesn’t pay to ignore these requirements.”

Pursuant to MassDEP regulations, the removal of asbestos must be performed by a licensed contractor with notification as to when the removal will occur and requires certain methods and standards for removal, safety, storage, and disposal of the asbestos through the abatement process to help keep asbestos from becoming airborne.

Asbestos fibers can cause cancer and other serious respiratory problems and diseases when inhaled.

Assistant Attorney General Betsy Harper of AG Coakley’s Environmental Protection Division handled the case with assistance from MassDEP attorney Mary Jude Pigsley, Regional Asbestos Chief Gregory Levins, and Investigator Don Heeley from MassDEP’s Central Regional Office.

For Immediate Release – June 29, 2012

Transgender Equal Rights Bill Goes into Effect Sunday, July 1

AG Coakley Supported Law that Prohibits Gender-Identity Based Discrimination; AG’s Website and Complaint Form Updated to Reflect Changes in Law

BOSTON – On Sunday, An Act Relative to Gender Identity, also known as the Transgender Equal Rights Bill, goes into effect. The bill was signed into law by Governor Patrick on November 23, 2011 and adds gender identity as a protected category to existing Massachusetts anti-discrimination laws covering employment, housing, public education, and credit and lending. The new law also adds gender identity as a protected category under the state hate crimes law.

“This law is a much needed update to our current anti-discrimination and hate crimes laws,” Attorney General Martha Coakley said. “Transgender individuals are frequently targets of bias-motivated crimes.  The equal rights law is an important effort to ensure that transgender individuals in Massachusetts can be safe and secure – at home, at work, and in their communities – because no one should feel unsafe or be discriminated against because of their gender identity.”

The statute provides new protections for people who have transitioned from one gender to another, as well as people whose gender identity, expression, and/or behavior does not match their birth sex.  Individuals do not need to have undergone sex reassignment surgery to be covered by the new law, and the protection extends to individuals discriminated against based on the gender identity or expression, even if they do not identify as transgender.

The new law amends the state’s principal anti-discrimination statute, G.L. c. 151B, as well as others to prohibit discrimination in housing and employment and to ensure that discrimination on the basis of gender identity is prohibited in public schools. The Commonwealth’s hate crimes statute has also been changed to include acts against transgender individuals in the hate crime data collected by state police.

The AG’s Office will have a role in enforcing the Transgender Equal Rights Bill. The AG’s Civil Rights Division reviews and responds to complaints alleging civil rights violations of residents and visitors in the Commonwealth.  The office may investigate and bring enforcement action, mediate disputes, or refer complainants to other resources. Anyone who believes that they have been subjected to unlawful gender identity discrimination is encouraged to file a complaint with the Civil Rights Division.  Information on the AG’s website and the Complaint Form have been updated to reflect the changes in the law. Complaint forms are available on the AG’s website.

Discrimination against transgender individuals in employment and housing remains a significant barrier to their access to opportunities. According to a 2011 national survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality, 47 percent of transgender respondents reported experiencing employment discrimination, including being fired, denied a promotion or simply not hired.  Additionally, 19 percent of respondents to the same survey reported being denied a home or apartment and 11 percent reported being evicted because they were transgender.  The survey also reported that 78 percent of transgender respondents reported being harassed while enrolled in primary or secondary schools.

AG Coakley was one of the earliest supporters of this bill and in June 2011, testified in favor of its passage before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary.  In November 2011, she commended the passage of the bill. AG Coakley recently provided testimony to the Massachusetts Commission on GLBT Youth that touched on the challenges transgender youth face in public schools.  In her testimony, AG Coakley discussed the need for an amendment to the existing bullying prevention law that would require schools to specifically develop strategies as part of their bullying prevention plans to assist vulnerable student populations, such as transgender students.  AG Coakley has filed legislation, An Act Relative to Implementation of the School Bullying Law, advocating for that change.

For Immediate Release – July 06, 2012

Landlords Settle Claims of Housing Discrimination

Landlords Accused of Refusing to Rent to Families with Children Agree to Remove Lead Paint from Rental Properties

BOSTON – Multiple landlords have settled allegations that they refused to rent to families with children in order to avoid obligations to remove lead paint hazards, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

Under state law, it is illegal to discriminate against housing applicants because they have children or because the rental would require the landlord to abate lead hazards.

“The Commonwealth’s lead paint law protects children from the damaging effects of lead, which include impaired development, learning difficulties, and behavior problems,” AG Coakley said. “By enforcing this law our office works to ensure that families with children are able to find lead-safe housing within the Commonwealth.”

Celina Puszko and Alojzy Jackiewicz

According to the complaint filed on June 22, in Suffolk Superior Court, Dorchester property owners Celina Puszko and Alojzy Jackiewicz discriminated against families with children under the age of six by refusing to rent to them in order to avoid their obligation to abate lead paint hazards. Along with the complaint, the parties filed a consent judgment, which was entered by Judge D. Lloyd MacDonald on July 3. The consent judgment requires Puszko and Jackiewicz to delead at least one of their three rental units in Dorchester, to attend fair housing training, and to pay $3,000 in restitution and penalties.

Gregory Howell and Scott Michels

According to the assurance of discontinuance filed on June 25, Gregory Howell and Scott Michels, who jointly own four rental properties in Bourne, Wareham, and Fairhaven, posted a discriminatory advertisement for one of their Wareham properties on the website Craigslist.org. The advertisement specifically stated that certain families with young children were not eligible to rent the advertised rental property because the property had not been deleaded. Under the terms of the assurance, Howell and Michels agreed to attend fair housing training, delead the property, and pay a penalty of $3,000 to the Commonwealth.

These matters were handled by Assistant Attorney General Genevieve C. Nadeau of AG Coakley’s Civil Rights Division.

For Immediate Release – July 30, 2012

Watertown Landlords Settle Allegations of Housing Discrimination

Landlords Accused of Refusing to Rent to Families with Children Agree to Remove Lead Paint from Two Apartments

BOSTON – The owners of two Watertown apartments have settled allegations that they discriminated against families with children in order to avoid their obligation to remove lead paint hazards, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

Under state law, it is illegal to discriminate against housing applicants because they have children or because the rental would require the landlord to abate lead hazards.

“The Commonwealth’s lead paint law protects children from the damaging effects of lead, which include impaired development, learning difficulties, and behavior problems,” AG Coakley said.  “It is imperative that families with children are able to find lead-safe housing in the Commonwealth.”

The consent judgment entered by Judge Paul E. Troy requires Christopher and Elizabeth Molle to attend fair housing training and delead their two rental units in Watertown.  The consent judgment follows a lawsuit filed collectively against these defendants, as well as a Boston-area real estate agency, and two of its agents for discriminating against families with children.

The Commonwealth’s complaint, filed in Suffolk Superior Court on April 6, 2012, alleged that, in their efforts to rent a Watertown apartment owned by the defendants, The Gateway Real Estate Group, Inc. (“Gateway”) as well as two of its agents, Jillian Chan and Audrey Flemming, discriminated against families with children under six on at least three separate occasions.  According to the complaint, Gateway, Chan, and/or Flemming refused to show the apartment to a mother of a toddler, rejected a rental application submitted by a couple that was expecting a baby, and falsely informed a mother of a toddler who requested a rental application that the apartment was no longer available.  The complaint further alleges that in each instance Gateway and its agents refused the prospective tenants because the apartment likely contained lead paint and renting to them would have triggered an obligation to abate lead paint hazards.

The consent judgment resolves allegations against Christopher and Elizabeth Molle.  Litigation against Gateway and its agents is ongoing.  The Attorney General’s Office is seeking damages for the victims, civil penalties and attorneys’ fees.

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Ann E. Lynch of AG Coakley’s Civil Rights Division.

For Immediate Release – August 06, 2012

Real Estate Management Firm Sued for Housing Discrimination

Property Manager Accused of Refusing Housing to Recipient of Federal Housing Assistance

BOSTON – A Boston-based real estate management company, its property manager, and an Arlington property owner have been sued for violating the state’s anti-discrimination law for allegedly refusing to rent to a recipient of a federal housing subsidy, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

Under state law, it is illegal to discriminate against housing applicants because they receive public assistance.

“We are facing critical affordable housing needs in the Commonwealth and the strain on those needing rental or transitional housing assistance is particularly great,” AG Coakley said.  “Discrimination against those receiving housing assistance subsidies is illegal and realtors, brokers and landlords must operate within the bounds of the law.”

According to the complaint filed in Middlesex Superior Court against The Hamilton Company, Inc., Nostalgia Properties LLC, and Nicholas Rivers, the defendants allegedly refused to rent to a prospective tenant because he intended to use a Section 8 affordable housing voucher to pay for the rent.

The Hamilton Company is a full-service real estate management firm with a portfolio of more than 60 residential properties in Massachusetts, including a rental apartment complex on Brattle Drive in Arlington, owned by Nostalgia Properties. According to the complaint Rivers, the Hamilton Company’s property manager, placed several advertisements for available one-bedroom rental units at the complex in November 2011. On two separate occasions, Rivers withheld information about available rental units and failed to negotiate with a prospective tenant who informed him that he had a Section 8 voucher.

Housing discrimination includes refusing to rent or sell, failing or refusing to negotiate, withholding information about available housing accommodations, falsely representing that housing accommodations are unavailable, or imposing different terms or conditions for housing accommodations.

The AG’s Office filed the complaint after the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) found probable cause that the defendants had unlawfully discriminated against the prospective tenant. The AG’s Office is responsible for enforcing fair housing laws and prosecuting housing discrimination cases following probable cause determinations from the MCAD.

The AG’s Office is seeking injunctive relief, damages for the victim, and punitive damages.

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Genevieve C. Nadeau of AG Coakley’s Civil Rights Division.

For Immediate Release – September 12, 2012

AG Coakley Discusses Office’s Efforts to Combat Housing Discrimination

Since 2007, AG’s Civil Rights Division Has Successfully Handled More Than 125 Cases Resulting in Approximately $2.5 Million in Relief

BOSTON – As part of a continued focus on combating housing discrimination in the Commonwealth, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced that more than 125 housing discrimination matters handled by the AG’s Civil Rights Division since 2007 have resulted in more than $2.5 million in relief for Massachusetts residents. AG Coakley made the announcement during remarks at a luncheon today hosted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Suffolk University School of Law to celebrate the law school’s opening of a housing discrimination clinic and to discuss fair housing issues in the Commonwealth.

“These housing discrimination cases are some of our most important work we do in the office, because they involve the lives of real people affected in profound ways by unlawful bias and unfairness,” AG Coakley said. “These cases clearly demonstrate that, in both good times and bad, too many people face barriers when finding a place to live.”

As an advocate for victim and consumer rights, Attorney General Coakley’s office works to ensure that the civil rights and liberties of visitors and residents of the Commonwealth are preserved and protected. Under federal and state fair housing laws, it is illegal to discriminate against an individual or a family seeking housing because of a person’s race, color, religion, sex, familial status (e.g. children or marital status), national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, receipt of rental/income assistance, or handicap/disability. These laws also prohibit discrimination in advertising and in public housing, and cover actions taken by realtors, sellers, landlords, mortgage lenders and brokers.

Some examples of cases recently handled by the AG’s Office:

Duva/Karon

According to allegations an assurance of discontinuance filed in Suffolk Superior Court today, Paul Duva and James Karon refused to rent an apartment in Somerville to a prospective tenant upon discovering that she was the recipient of a Massachusetts Alternative Housing Voucher. Duva and Karon directed their real estate agent to reject the prospective tenant’s application, and subsequently rented the same unit at a lower monthly rent, to a different tenant who received no rental assistance.

The settlement includes a broad range of relief and preventive measures to ensure the landlords’ future compliance with state and federal fair housing laws as well as a payment of $10,000 in damages to the victim. The assurance further requires Duva and Karon to abide by federal and state fair housing and anti-discrimination laws, complete fair housing training, and notify the Civil Rights Division of any housing discrimination complaints for the next three years.

Centre Realty

In April 2011, a Watertown real estate company and one of its employees resolved allegations that they unfairly discriminated against a prospective tenant and her family by refusing to show them available apartments because of the units’ lead paint status. Under the terms of the assurance of discontinuance, Centre Realty Group paid $10,000 to the prospective tenant, $1,500 to the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, and $1,000 to the Commonwealth. The assurance of discontinuance further requires Centre Realty Group and its employees to abide by federal and state fair housing and anti-discrimination laws, receive fair housing training, and notify the Civil Rights Division of any housing discrimination complaints.

For Immediate Release – October 31, 2012

Worcester Area Property Owner Pleads Guilty, Sentenced in Connection with Child Endangerment and Other Charges

Defendant Misled Tenants about Lead Paint

WORCESTER — A Worcester area property owner has pleaded guilty and been sentenced for fraudulently claiming that one of his properties had been de-leaded and endangering the children who lived in the property, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

“This defendant deceived tenants about the presence of lead in his properties, thereby endangering the health of those tenants, including two little girls,” said AG Coakley.  “This case makes clear that a landlord who fails to meet his or her responsibilities under the lead laws may be held criminally responsible for child endangerment. We applaud the Leicester Board of Health and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health for helping bring this case forward.”

“Massachusetts has one of the strongest laws in the U.S. aimed at preventing lead exposure to children,” said Suzanne Condon, Director of the Bureau of Environmental Health at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.  “Given CDC’s new guidance suggesting that children with lower blood lead levels are at risk of health impacts, it is critical that such laws be adhered to in order to protect our most vulnerable population.”

Jaroslaw Pianka, age 42, of North Oxford, pleaded guilty Thursday during his trial in Worcester Superior Court to charges of Child Endangerment, Larceny by False Pretenses, and Uttering (2 counts).  Yesterday, Superior Court Judge Richard Tucker sentenced Pianka to three years of probation, with the condition that he disclose all properties he owns to the Department of Public Health and de-lead the properties as directed by them.  Judge Tucker also ordered him to complete 300 hours of community service.  The Commonwealth recommended that Pianka be sentenced to 18 months in the House of Correction, 59 days to serve, with the balance suspended for three years, and to pay $9,825 in restitution to the victims.

Pianka, the owner of two properties located on Dale Court in Leicester, failed to comply with lead laws by failing to disclose what he knew about lead paint in the properties, failing to inspect the properties for lead paint, and then submitting fraudulent certificates of lead compliance instead of having the properties properly de-leaded.

According to the evidence presented at trial, a family with two children under the age of six rented one of the Dale Court properties from Pianka in February 2007 based upon his verbal representation that the property had been de-leaded.  Massachusetts Law requires owners of properties containing dangerous levels of lead to abate or contain lead whenever a child under six years of age resides in the property.  Two years later, the family performed a home lead test which revealed lead in the property, and contacted the Leicester Board of Health (Board of Health) to request a lead determination.

Further inspection of the property by the Board of Health found lead in the children’s bedroom and a bathroom and, on March 31, 2009, the Board of Health issued an order to Pianka to correct the lead in the property.  Following the order, in April 2009, Pianka provided the family with a document purporting to be a letter of full de-leading compliance for the property and the Massachusetts Tenant Lead Law Notification and Certification Form, which is required by law to be provided by landlords to tenants prior to renting properties built before 1978.  Pianka also filed the purported letter of full de-leading compliance with the Board of Health.  A subsequent review of the letter conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Child Lead Poisoning Prevention Program determined the documentation to be fraudulent due to the fact that it claimed to be prepared by a person who was never a licensed lead inspector in Massachusetts, it bore a license number that had never been issued by the Department, and contained fictional phone numbers.

Pianka also pled guilty to filing a fabricated de-leading certificate for a second property located on Dale Court in Leicester.  In March 2009, the Board of Health issued an order to Pianka to abate lead hazards in the second property.  In response to the order, Pianka submitted another document purporting to be a letter of full de-leading compliance.  Further investigation of the letter using the Licensed Lead Inspector Database of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health determined that this letter was also fraudulent because it also claimed to be prepared by a person who was never a licensed lead inspector in Massachusetts, bore a license number that had been issued to another person, and contained fictional phone numbers.

A Worcester County Grand Jury returned indictments against Pianka on December 17, 2010.  Pianka was arraigned on January 5, 2011 in Worcester Superior Court at which time he pled not guilty and was released on personal recognizance.  Pianka pleaded guilty Thursday and was sentenced by Judge Tucker yesterday.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Andrew Rainer and Laura Harris of AG Coakley’s Environmental Crimes Strike Force with assistance from Shannon Legrice of the Victim Witness Services Division.  Linda Dube, Lorraine Simbliaris, and Paul Hunter of the Department of Public Health’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program also played critical roles in this investigation.

For Immediate Release – December 07, 2012

Property Owner Settles Claims of Housing Discrimination Against Tenant with Assistance Dog

Owner to Pay $15,000 and Implement New Policies to Avoid Violation of Fair Housing Laws

BOSTON – A property owner from Newton has agreed to pay $15,000 and make extensive policy changes at his businesses, settling allegations that a manager at one of his apartment complexes discriminated against a disabled tenant with an assistance dog, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

According to the assurance of discontinuance, filed Thursday in Suffolk Superior Court, Kevin Regan, the property manager at the Lord Baron Apartments in Burlington, allegedly refused to rent to a prospective tenant because she requested permission to reside with an assistance dog. Regan later agreed to rent to the tenant after being contacted by the AG’s Office and informed that his refusal to rent violated fair housing laws. Subsequent to the AG Coakley’s involvement, Regan allegedly threatened the victim with eviction if he received any complaints about her assistance dog.

“People with disabilities must be afforded the same access to quality, affordable housing as any other resident of the Commonwealth,” AG Coakley said. “Failing to make reasonable adjustments to policies and practices in order to accommodate tenants with disabilities violates the law.”

The other defendants named in the assurance are the L.B. Nominee Trust, doing business as the Lord Baron Apartments, and its trustees, Kosow Construction Corporation and owner Marvin P. Kosow, both located in Newton. Regan is a resident of Westwood.

The assurance requires the defendants to pay a total of $15,000 in restitution and penalties to the tenant and the Commonwealth. The Lord Baron Apartments, along with an affiliated property, the Lord Chesterfield Apartments in Framingham, is required to make extensive policy changes to avoid future violations, provide employees with annual fair housing training, and notify the AG’s Office of future requests by disabled tenants for certain accommodations.

Under state law, it is illegal to discriminate against a housing applicant because he or she is disabled.  It is also illegal to refuse to permit or to make reasonable modifications of existing premises, or to refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, if such modifications or accommodations are necessary to afford an occupant with a disability the full enjoyment of the premises.

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Genevieve C. Nadeau and Paralegal Bethany Brown, both of AG Coakley’s Civil Rights Division.