Pueblo Man Sentenced After Causing Airborne Asbestos

POSTED: 03:56 AM MST Feb 06, 2012    UPDATED: 04:52 AM MST Feb 06, 2012 
PUEBLO, Colo. -

A man who caused the airborne release of asbestos while demolishing a Pueblo house was sentenced Monday to a four-year community corrections term.

Thomas K. Tienda is also expected to pay more than $300,000 in restitution. A Pueblo jury convicted Tienda of eight felonies in October.

Investigators say Tienda hired homeless individuals instead of properly licensed contractors to save money. Their demolition work, which also lacked the proper permit from the City of Pueblo, resulted in the airborne release of asbestos, a known carcinogen. Tienda also was suspected of reusing some of the asbestos-contaminated materials from the demolition.

The Office of the Attorney General prosecuted the case in cooperation with the Pueblo District Attorney's Office. The Office of the Attorney General investigated the case and secured the complaint against Tienda with the assistance of the Colorado Environmental Crime Task Force, the Air Quality Unit of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the Environmental Protection Agency's Criminal Investigations Division.

"There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos," said Lori Hanson, special agent in charge of EPA's criminal enforcement program in Colorado. "The defendant not only employed unsafe asbestos removal practices but tried to cover up his illegal actions. Today's sentence should send a clear message that the EPA will continue working closely with our state enforcement partners to prosecute those who violate the law and place their private gains over the public's well being."

Consumer who believe environmental crimes have taken place can file a complaint online via www.coloradoattorneygeneral.gov/environmentalcrime.