Contractor for Pillsbury Mills sentenced to 3 years

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) – A federal judge has sentenced a man for failing to adequately remove and dispose of asbestos material.

Joseph J. Chernis, IV, a demolition contractor, will serve 37 months in federal prison for violating the Clean Air Act at the former Pillsbury Mills facility in Springfield. Chernis will also be on supervised released for a period of three years.

Chernis plead guilty to three charges of violating the Clean Air Act in April. He admitted he hired an untrained individual to illegally remove dry asbestos pipe insulation from the Pillsbury Mills facility.

The removal began in October 2014 until August 2015.

“Asbestos can cause cancer and other serious respiratory diseases, so it is important that it be handled legally,” said Brad Ostendorf, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Illinois. “The defendant knew the rules regarding the legal removal of asbestos containing materials but ignored them.”

Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA has rules and regulations for safely removing the materials.

All of the asbestos was removed from the facility by the EPA just months ago. 

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