Richmond Hill man admits faking air test results

By Howard Koplowitz

A Richmond Hill asbestos investigator pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court Friday to falsifying hundreds of lead and asbestos reports and forms during inspections of city properties, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Saverio Todaro, 67, of Richmond Hill, faces up to 88 years in prison and up to $2.3 million in fines when he is scheduled to be sentenced June 28 by U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood, according to the U.S. attorney for the Southern District. He was a lead risk assessor and licensed asbestos air sampling technician.

“Saverio Todaro for years placed his greed ahead of the health and safety of unsuspecting residents and workers of this city, papering over potential lead and asbestos exposures,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. “Working with our extraordinary partners … we will continue in our efforts to protect the public from individuals who would violate our environmental laws and place others in peril.”

A number of times after November 2001, Todaro pretended to perform lead clearance testing in city homes that had been found by city officials to contain lead-based paint hazards, which require either abatement or remediation, the U.S. attorney said.

But Todaro either did not take any samples to be analyzed by a lab or he took samples but did not bring them to a laboratory, according to the U.S. attorney. Instead, Todaro created fake lab reports that stated the properties were safe for occupancy, Bharara said.

Bharara said Todaro sent bogus lead clearance lab reports and invoices purporting to be for actual lead clearance testing to customers. He also submitted false lab reports to the city Department of Health and the city Department of Housing, Bharara said.

Todaro was also a certified asbestos investigator until Feb. 17, 2004, when the city suspended his certificate and he was prohibited from performing building inspections for asbestos, the U.S. attorney said.

Despite the suspension, Todaro continued to inspect buildings, Bharara said. During that time, he submitted false asbestos inspection reports, the U.S. attorney said.

Todaro created false lab reports purporting to give results of asbestos air monitoring and lead clearance testing at sites undergoing demolition or renovation “on hundreds of occasions,” Bharara said.

Todaro pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein in Manhattan federal court to charges of making false statements, mail fraud and violating the Toxic Control Substances Act, Bharara said.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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