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November 20, 2017

Woodbridge man pleads guilty to performing unlicensed asbestos removal work in Edison and Hunterdon County schools

A Woodbridge man has pleaded guilty to charges connected with asbestos work his unlicensed business performed at schools in Edison and Hunterdon County, as well as a day-care center in Union County where hazardous asbestos and dust were released into the air.

William T. Muzzio Jr., 52, of Woodbridge, pleaded guilty before Union County Superior Court Judge Scott J. Moynihan, sitting in Elizabeth, 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), according to Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman.

Muzzio also performed asbestos removal work at 12 homes in Middlesex, Union, Morris, Essex, Hudson and Ocean counties.

Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Muzzio be sentenced to seven years in state prison. Sentencing is scheduled for June 27.

This unlicensed contractor put his own profits ahead of the health of those who were exposed to his unsafe asbestos abatement projects, including children at a day-care center, Hoffman said. His conduct in exposing children and others to hazardous asbestos-containing dust and debris was unconscionable. This prison sentence should send a strong deterrent message to any other contractors who would consider engaging in illegal asbestos work.

The state began investigating Muzzio and his business, Citadel Environmental Consultants, in March 2012 after a daycare facility in Union Township (Union County), Townley School, hired Muzzio to remove pipe insulation containing asbestos from its basement boiler room.

The state Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) inspected the facility and notified its operators that damaged insulation needed to be repaired or removed prior to renewal of the facilitys 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 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.

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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 Townley School. He further admitted performing unlicensed asbestos work at Union Middle School in Hampton, Hunterdon County, John Marshall Elementary School in Edison and two schools in Hackettstown, Hatchery Hill School and Willow Grove School.

Additionally, 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.

Under the plea agreement, Muzzio must pay total restitution of $19,848 as follows: $7,970 to 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 $800 to the Edison Board of Education.

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Woodbridge man pleads guilty to performing unlicensed asbestos removal work in Edison and Hunterdon County schools

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