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Inspectors for Mt. Manresa Indicted for Lying About Asbestos, DA Says

By Nicholas Rizzi | June 25, 2015 7:38pm
 Gaspare Santoro, 75, and his son Paul Santoro, 36, were hit with a 36-count indictment after prosectors said they lied about asbestos at Mount Manresa and seven other properties in Staten Island.
Gaspare Santoro, 75, and his son Paul Santoro, 36, were hit with a 36-count indictment after prosectors said they lied about asbestos at Mount Manresa and seven other properties in Staten Island.
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Staten Island District Attorney's Office

STATEN ISLAND — The inspectors for the controversial Mount Manresa project were hit with a 36-count indictment Wednesday after prosecutors said they lied about asbestos at the site and other properties in the borough.

Gaspare Santoro, 75, and his son Paul Santoro, 36, were charged for filing and falsifying business records after they submitted reports claiming they found no asbestos at Mount Manresa and seven properties around Staten Island even though they knew otherwise, Acting District Attorney Daniel Master Jr. announced.

"These men had a professional, ethical, and legal responsibility to accurately report the presence of toxic asbestos at the former Mount Manresa site and seven other locations where they had been contracted to conduct such inspections," Master said in a statement.

"Instead, they falsified their reports and lied about the presence of asbestos, a deadly substance that has been known to cause cancer. Their callous actions put the health of the public, several homeowners and other construction workers at risk, and that will not go unchecked."

The Santoros were arrested in December after investigators found they had lab reports in their office that found Chrysotile — the most commonly used form of asbestos — in several buildings at Mount Manresa, but still filed paperwork for demolition that said the material was not present.

Aside from Mount Manresa, Master said the Santoros certified that three private homes and a commercial property at 4491 Amboy Rd. had no asbestos even though they knew they did.

They also lied on paperwork for three other private homes that said the portions being worked on were free of the material, Master said.

Last year, the controversial sale of the former Jesuit retreat house to the Savo Brothers was finalized and crews started to demolish several buildings to make way for condos.

After the Department of Environmental Protection found traces of asbestos in the demolished buildings, work was halted on the site and the agency issued $67,000 in fines to the developers, contractors and Santoros for filing the false paperwork.

Work on the project restarted in February after the demolition permits that expired in December were reissued and the stop work orders were lifted.

Gaspare and Paul Santoro, who both live in New Jersey, were released without bail and face up to four years in prison if found guilty, the DA said. 

Their lawyer did not respond to request for comment.