ST. GEORGE — The asbestos inspectors for Mount Manresa were arrested for filing paperwork that claimed the historic buildings had no traces of the potentially deadly material, even though the inspectors knew otherwise, prosecutors said.
Paul Santoro, 35, and his father, Gaspare Santoro, 74, had lab reports that showed asbestos was found in several buildings on the site, but still filed paperwork for demolition permits that said the material was not present in three buildings, District Attorney Dan Donovan said.
"The actions of these men violated the communities trust, and put many residents in Fort Wadsworth at possible risk," Donovan said.
Investigators discovered lab reports in the Santoro's offices that found Chrysotile — the most commonly used form of white asbestos — at the site, Donovan said.
The Santoros later told police they did not even test pipe insulation at Building 1A, even though they both knew asbestos would likely be found inside. Later testing by the city found the material in the pipes, Donovan said.
"We are not talking about people who lied on paperwork, we are talking about people who put New Yorkers at risk," said Mark Peters, commissioner of the Department of Investigations, which helped with the investigation.
Donovan could not say if the developers, the Savo Brothers, knew or were involved with the Santoros' falsification of the reports.
Earlier this year, the controversial sale of the former Jesuit retreat house was finalized and crews started demolishing several buildings to make way for condos.
After the DEP later found traces of asbestos in demolished buildings, the site was hit with a stop work order in September and a second one in October for continuing to do non asbestos abatement work on the project.
Donovan said investigators are currently looking at previous sites the Santoros have done asbestos work to see if they're also suspect.
Paul Santoro was charged with four counts of offering a false instrument for filing at his arraignment on Tuesday, and his father was hit with three counts.
If convicted, they could serve up to four years in prison for the crime, Donovan said.
It wasn't immediately clear whether the Santoros had retained an attorney.