August 22, 2014 at 11:15 AM
TRENTON, NJ – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a Woodbridge man was sentenced to state prison Friday for performing unsafe asbestos work at John Marshall Elementary School in Edison and numerous other schools and homes through his unlicensed business, Citadel Environmental Consultants. He previously admitted that he released hazardous asbestos dust and debris at a daycare center in Union County.
William T. Muzzio Jr., 52, of Woodbridge, was sentenced to five years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Scott J. Moynihan in Union County. Muzzio pleaded guilty on March 10 to a second-degree charge of unlawful release of a toxic pollutant and a third-degree charge of violating the Asbestos Control and Licensing Act (removing or encapsulating asbestos without a license). The state recommended a prison sentence of seven years under the plea agreement, but the judge imposed a sentence of five years.
Deputy attorneys General Mary Erin McAnally and Phillip Leahy prosecuted the case for the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau, Environmental Crimes Unit. McAnally handled the sentencing.
“Muzzio exhibited tremendous greed and callousness with his unlicensed and unsafe asbestos removal, putting the health of young children at risk so that he could turn a profit,” said Hoffman. “Fortunately, the asbestos-containing dust and debris that he left in the basement of the daycare center was quickly discovered by state officials and removed.”
“This prison sentence serves as a warning to dishonest business operators who would threaten the public by violating our environmental and occupational safety laws,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We will aggressively enforce those laws and our related criminal code provisions.”
The state began investigating Muzzio and his business 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 discovered dust and debris containing asbestos in the boiler room and an adjacent crawl space. The facility immediately hired a licensed contractor to properly complete the asbestos abatement.
The Division of Criminal Justice expanded the investigation and identified numerous other sites, including schools and homes, where Muzzio performed unlicensed asbestos abatement between April 2011 and May 2012. In pleading guilty, Muzzio admitted releasing asbestos at the Townley School. He further admitted performing unlicensed asbestos work at the Union Middle School in Hampton, Hunterdon County; two schools in Hackettstown, namely the Hatchery Hill School and the Willow Grove School; and the John Marshall Elementary School in Edison. In addition, he admitted that, assisted by another, directly or indirectly, he performed unlicensed asbestos work at 12 homes in Middlesex, Union, Morris, Essex, Hudson and Ocean counties. The Department of Labor has inspected the homes at which Muzzio performed unlawful work to determine whether any asbestos contamination remains.
Under the plea agreement, Muzzio must pay total restitution of $19,848 as follows:
- $800 to the Edison Board of Education.
- $7,970 to the Townley School,
- $4,763 to the New Jersey Department of Labor,
- $3,445 to the Hackettstown Board of Education,
- $2,870 to the Union Township Board of Education, and
The investigation was conducted for the Environmental Crimes Unit, within the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau, by former Detective Matthew Schneiderman, Sgt. Steven Ogulin, former Detective Michael Klumpp, former Detective Dawn Ryan, Detective Kelly Howard, Detective Cecil Boone, Detective Christian Harden, Deputy Attorney General McAnally, Deputy Attorney General Leahy, former Deputy Attorney General Betty Rodriguez and Management Assistant Nathalie Kurzawa. 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.