The twice-delayed United States v. Bradley and Essex federal trial begins this morning in the Bay City courtroom of U.S. District Judge Thomas L. Ludington.
In August 2013, a grand jury charged Bradley and Essex with four counts of illegally distributing and handling asbestos, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
In April 2010, Roy C. Bradley Sr.'s restoration company, Lasting Impressions, was hired by Steven J. Ingersoll to remove asbestos from a former church located at 400 N. Madison Avenue in Bay City. Ingersoll converted the church into a school building for his Bay City Academy, with Bradley completing the renovation.
Federal prosecutors charge that Bradley and Essex worked together, and with others, to convert the former church into the Bay City Academy. In the process, prosecutors contend the pair "knowingly failed to remove and cause the removal of all regulated asbestos-containing material from that facility in accordance with the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants."
Prosecutors allege Bradley and Essex broke the law during renovations at the Madison Avenue building from Aug. 18, 2010, through Sept. 2, 2011.
On June 17, U.S. District Judge Ludington sentenced a third defendant, Rodolfo Rodriguez, to 21 months in a federal prison for lying to a federal grand jury regarding what he knew about asbestos removal from the Bay City charter school.
Rodriguez was an employee of Bradley's restoration company, Lasting Impressions. In January 2013, Rodriguez testified before the grand jury and deliberately gave false testimony regarding how much asbestos he removed and who directed him at the task, court records show.
Excerpts of Rodriguez's testimony indicate he varied on how much asbestos he removed, from 20 feet to 200 feet. He initially maintained no one told him to remove the material and that he did so on his own volition, but after being pressed by the grand jury, he said crew foreman Gerald A. Essex told him to "gut the place".
In February 2014, Rodriguez pleaded guilty to one count of perjury before a grand jury. "At Bradley's direction, and under Essex's supervision, Rodriguez removed at least 200 feet of asbestos insulation from pipes in the church so the pipes themselves could be removed," the plea agreement states.
Rodriguez, who was reportedly paid in cash "off the books", is expected to testify against Bradley and Essex.
In addition, on November 10, the government filed a notice regarding "opinion testimony", listing the following expert witnesses:
-Dr. Clark Kahn: Kalamazoo-based Kahn is expected to testify regarding regulations relating to asbestos removal and disposal, proper asbestos abatement procedures and equipment, and asbestos abatement costs.
-Peggy Forney: a chemist at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Forney will testify regarding the findings she made as a result of her examination of samples seized from 400 N. Madison Avenue during the execution of a federal search warrant.
-Anne Whitaker: may testify regarding the findings she made as a result of her examination of samples taken from 400 N. Madison, during site visits by state regulators.
-Robert Letarte: the Lab Director at Whitmore Lake-based APEX Research, Inc., Letarte may testify regarding the findings made pursuant to examinations of samples taken from 400 N. Madison during asbestos surveys.