Owner of Tennessee demolition company pleads guilty

The owner of a Chattanooga, Tennessee salvage and demolition company, Watkins Street Project LLC, pleaded guilty in federal court in Chattanooga, for conspiring to violate the Clean Air Act and to defraud the United States.

Gary Fillers pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Collier for the Eastern District of Tennessee to one criminal felony count for conspiring to violate the Clean Air Act’s “work practice standards” related to the proper stripping, bagging, removal and disposal of asbestos.

According to the charges, Fillers and other co-conspirators engaged in a year-long scheme in which substantial amounts of regulated asbestos-containing materials were removed from the former Standard Coosa Thatcher Plant without following the Clean Air Act and the regulations governing Environmental Protection Agency notification requirements; removing all asbestos prior to demolition; and stripping, bagging, removal and disposal of such asbestos.

Fillers faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss to the victims. The plea is related to the indictment of Watkins Street Project LLC, Mathis Companies Inc., Donald Fillers, James Mathis and David Wood. All of these defendants pleaded not guilty to related conspiracy, Clean Air Act, false statements and obstruction of justice charges on September 14, 2009. Trial is set to begin on November 18, 2009, before Judge Collier.