Asbestos contractor exposed workers and homeowners to asbestos, forged documents, stole thousands from homeowners
OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today announced that Derrick Boss, the owner of Above and Beyond Asbestos Removal in Bothell, was sentenced to 105 days in jail and ordered to pay full restitution to his victims for environmental crimes he committed in his asbestos abatement business.
Boss duped his clients by posing as a properly licensed and trained asbestos removal expert. In fact, he was unlicensed and unqualified — and repeatedly exposed his customers and workers to asbestos. Boss must pay full restitution to four people who paid him for his services, a total of $13,350.
|Photo: Boss left 10 gallons of asbestos material on one customer’s floor. The customer had to hire another company to complete the work. Click on the image to open a high-resolution version.|
Boss left 10 gallons of asbestos material on one customer’s floor. The customer had to hire another company to complete the work.
Boss’s criminal conduct included operating his business without a license, forging his former partner’s signature on asbestos abatement certification documents, and exposing his workers — including his own son — to asbestos without adequate protective equipment.
Ferguson’s Environmental Protection Division handled the case. The Attorney General’s Office filed criminal charges in February 2022. Boss pleaded guilty in June to two felonies (forgery and second-degree theft) and four gross misdemeanors (two violations of the Washington Clean Air Act and two counts of contracting without a license).
“Asbestos is a dangerous pollutant,” Ferguson said. “I formed an Environmental Protection Division to bring additional prosecutorial resources to environmental crimes. My legal team is working to hold polluters accountable when they expose Washingtonians to dangerous and toxic substances in pursuit of profit.”
The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) decertified Boss as an asbestos abatement contractor in 2018. He currently owes the agency more than a half-million dollars in fines for 13 willful serious violations stemming from two separate June 2021 inspections.
“This contractor preyed upon unsuspecting homeowners, and quickly scheduled jobs to avoid detection,” said Craig Blackwood, L&I’s assistant director of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “He was playing with peoples’ health and their bank accounts.”
When microscopic asbestos fibers are released into the air, they can cause damage to the lungs and cause serious health problems, like lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. Asbestos fibers are slow to break down — when released into the air, water or soil, they can cause damage to both human health and the health of wildlife.
Asbestos is common in ceiling and flooring materials in older buildings. Generally, if left alone, asbestos does not cause any problems, but damaged asbestos materials can release dangerous fibers into the air. If you’re planning on remodeling your home, or notice crumbling drywall or insulation, hire a trained and accredited asbestos professional to test and remove the asbestos material. Check the L&I certified contractors list to ensure an asbestos contractor is properly trained and certified.
Victim left with asbestos all over his house
One man in Burien contracted with Boss’s company last year to remove asbestos- contaminated flooring at his property. He paid $4,500 cash in advance for the service. L&I inspectors found that the work on his property was being done by Boss’s son, who was not certified to be an asbestos worker at the time — a violation of the state Clean Air Act, which requires asbestos abatement workers to be trained and certified.
In addition, Boss did not provide adequate protective equipment for his son. There is no safe level of asbestos exposure. Typically, asbestos removal requires full-coverage disposable coveralls and respirators to protect the body from exposure. Investigators found Boss’s son removing the asbestos flooring in street clothes and without respiratory protection, breaking down pieces of the flooring with a pry bar.
Boss and his son left the Burien customer’s property without completing the removal, leaving 10 gallons of asbestos-contaminated debris all over the floor. Boss did not refund the customer’s $4,500 payment. The customer had to hire another company to complete the work.
Boss forged his former partner’s signature, continued operating after losing his license
Boss formed Above and Beyond Asbestos Removal in 2016 with his then-girlfriend. In 2018, L&I decertified Boss as an asbestos contractor. Since that time, the company has not been licensed to perform asbestos removal, yet continued to perform removals.
Boss forged the signature of his former girlfriend and business partner on asbestos certification documents. She owned 30 percent of the company, but eventually left the company in 2018 for another job. Boss still has not taken her name off the company licenses and records, even though she has repeatedly asked him to, and he assured her he would. Instead, he repeatedly copied her signature onto documents that are required to certify an asbestos removal was legitimate — documents he couldn’t sign himself because of his repeat violations.
Due to Boss’s multiple, ongoing violations, L&I won an injunction in King County Superior Court against the company, which ordered it to cease all operations. Boss did not comply with this injunction. He repeatedly performed asbestos removal work in violation of the injunction, without a contractor’s license and without an asbestos contractor certificate.
The Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting the case after receiving a referral from the King County Prosecutor’s Office. The Attorney General’s Office worked with L&I to bring the case against Boss. The Attorney General’s Office does not have authority to initiate criminal prosecutions, unless it receives and accepts a referral from a county prosecutor or the governor.
Assistant Attorney General Robert Grant with the Environmental Protection Division is leading the case.
Ferguson has made prosecuting environmental crimes a priority of his administration. Since 2013, he has brought environmental prosecutions leading to 48 criminal convictions, and restitution orders in excess of $4,900,000.
Washington’s Attorney General serves the people and the state of Washington. As the state’s largest law firm, the Attorney General’s Office provides legal representation to every state agency, board, and commission in Washington. Additionally, the Office serves the people directly by enforcing consumer protection, civil rights, and environmental protection laws. The Office also prosecutes elder abuse, Medicaid fraud, and handles sexually violent predator cases in 38 of Washington’s 39 counties. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; Brionna.email@example.com
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