NEW YORK, July 28 -- Four men were indicted Thursday on charges of illegally removing and dumping asbestos from 26 Federal Plaza, the regional headquarters of the FBI and the Environmental Protection Agency. The alleged dump sites included a grocery store parking lot and softball field in Brooklyn and a parking lot in Manhattan's Little Italy.
Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Zachary Carter said if convicted on all counts, the individuals charged face up to 29 years in prison and $2.5 million in fines. The asbestos-removal firm, Gerace Contracting Corp., of Brooklyn, is subject to up to $2 million in fines. The defendants are charged with removing the asbestos from a water cooling tower on the lower Manhattan skyscraper without first wetting it down and then dropping it to the ground, releasing asbestos dust, according to court papers filed in Brooklyn federal court. The indictment said the asbestos was removed between Feb. 25 and March 9. Charges in the eight-count indictment included conspiracy and violations of the federal environmental laws. The individuals charged were identified in court papers as Gary Bennett, 32, of Brooklyn, the firm's owner and president; Dominic DeStefano, 28, of Brooklyn, the job supervisor, and Ubirajara Franco, 29, of Queens.