Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a Woodbridge man pleaded guilty today to criminal charges in connection with asbestos work that his unlicensed business performed at numerous schools and homes. He admitted that he released hazardous asbestos dust and debris at a daycare center in Union County.
William T. Muzzio Jr., 52, of Woodbridge, pleaded guilty before Superior Court Judge Scott J. Moynihan in Union County to a second-degree charge of unlawful release of a toxic pollutant and a third-degree charge of violating the Asbestos Control and Licensing Act (removing or encapsulating asbestos without a license). Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Muzzio be sentenced to seven years in state prison – specifically, seven years for the second-degree count, and four years for the third-degree count, with the sentences to run concurrently.
Deputy Attorneys General Mary Erin McAnally and Phillip Leahy prosecuted the case and took the guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice Environmental Crimes Unit. Muzzio is scheduled to be sentenced on June 27.
“This unlicensed contractor put his own profits ahead of the health of those who were exposed to his unsafe asbestos abatement projects, including children at a daycare center,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “His conduct in exposing children and others to hazardous asbestos-containing dust and debris was unconscionable. This prison sentence should send a strong deterrent message to any other contractors who would consider engaging in illegal asbestos work.
“New Jersey has strict laws to protect the public from the dangers of asbestos exposure, and we will continue to enforce them vigorously,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Those like Muzzio who put the health of others in jeopardy will find themselves facing stiff criminal penalties, including imprisonment.”
The state began investigating Muzzio and his business, Citadel Environmental Consultants, in March 2012, after a daycare facility in Union Township (Union County), the Townley School, hired Muzzio to remove pipe insulation containing asbestos from its basement boiler room. The state Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) had inspected the facility and notified its operators that damaged insulation needed to be repaired or removed prior to renewal of the facility’s license. After Muzzio performed asbestos removal at the facility in February 2012, DHSS checked with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development and learned that Muzzio was not licensed to perform asbestos abatement, as required by law. The Department of Labor referred the matter to the Division of Criminal Justice.
The Department of Labor and Division of Criminal Justice conducted inspections in March at the daycare facility and discovered dust and debris containing asbestos in the boiler room and an adjacent crawl space. The facility immediately hired a licensed contractor to properly complete the asbestos abatement.
The Division of Criminal Justice expanded the investigation and identified numerous other sites, including schools and homes, where Muzzio performed unlicensed asbestos abatement between April 2011 and May 2012. In pleading guilty, Muzzio admitted releasing asbestos at the Townley School. He further admitted performing unlicensed asbestos work at the Union Middle School in Hampton, Hunterdon County; two schools in Hackettstown, namely the Hatchery Hill School and the Willow Grove School; and the John Marshall Elementary School in Edison. In addition, he admitted that, assisted by another, directly or indirectly, he performed unlicensed asbestos work at 12 homes in Middlesex, Union, Morris, Essex, Hudson and Ocean counties.
Under the plea agreement, Muzzio must pay total restitution of $19,848 as follows:
- $7,970 to the Townley School,
- $4,763 to the New Jersey Department of Labor,
- $3,445 to the Hackettstown Board of Education,
- $2,870 to the Union Township Board of Education, and
- $800 to the Edison Board of Education.
The investigation was conducted for the Environmental Crimes Unit, within the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau, by former Detective Matthew Schneiderman, Sgt. Steven Ogulin, former Detective Michael Klumpp, former Detective Dawn Ryan, Detective Kelly Howard, Detective Cecil Boone, Detective Christian Harden, Deputy Attorney General McAnally, Deputy Attorney General Leahy, former Deputy Attorney General Betty Rodriguez and Management Assistant Nathalie Kurzawa. The matter was referred to the Division of Criminal Justice by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The Woodbridge Police Department assisted in executing a search warrant at Muzzio’s home, and the New Jersey State Police assisted in analyzing computer evidence at the Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory.