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House Painting Company Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges Related to Illegal Removal of Lead Paint

John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Tyler C. Amon, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in New England, announced that COLLEGIATE ENTREPRENEURS, INC., a Massachusetts-based house painting company, pleaded guilty today in Hartford federal court to violating the Toxic Substances Control Act and subsequently falsifying records.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Collegiate Entrepreneurs, Inc., LLC, of Braintree, Massachusetts, provides house-painting services in Connecticut and other New England states.  Some of the houses painted by Collegiate Entrepreneurs in 2015 contained lead-based paint.  For those jobs, the company was subject to the lead-based paint requirements of the Toxic Substances Control Act and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule.

Under the RRP Rule, Collegiate Entrepreneurs was required to ensure that its certified renovators complied with provisions governing training and supervision of painters, post-renovation cleaning, physical presence on-site, and preparation of required records.  The company was also responsible for ensuring that all renovation activities were performed in compliance with RRP Rule work practice standards governing occupant protection, containment of the work area, prohibited and restricted practices, waste from renovations, cleanup of the work area, and post-renovation cleaning verification.  Collegiate Entrepreneurs knowingly failed to ensure such compliance by its renovators during the 2015 painting season.

On October 13, 2015, in response to a federal grand jury subpoena, an employee of Collegiate Entrepreneurs produced records for 12 painting jobs in Connecticut that involved lead-based paint.  Included in the production were records that appeared to have been prepared and signed by certified renovators to document that RRP Rule work practice standards and training requirements had been met at each lead paint job.  Records for at least 10 of the 12 jobs were false.  The signatures of the certified renovators were forged and the records falsely represented that the jobs were performed in compliance with the RRP Rule.

Collegiate Entrepreneurs pleaded guilty to one count of falsification of records, which carries a maximum penalty of a $500,000 fine and five years of probation, and one count of violating the Toxic Substances Control Act, which carries a maximum penalty of a $200,000 fine and five years of probation.

Sentencing is scheduled for February 5, 2020, before U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny.

As part of the plea agreement, Collegiate Entrepreneurs and the government have agreed that a fine of $50,000 and a term of probation of five years is reasonable in this case.

Collegiate Entrepreneurs also will pay $30,000 in restitution to a victim homeowner in West Hartford, Connecticut, and will pay restitution to any other Connecticut victims with legally sufficient claims related to the improper removal of lead paint from their homes.

Collegiate Entrepreneurs has represented to the government that it is no longer engaged, and will not engage, in projects that involve the remediation of lead paint and are subject to the RRP Rule.

“Collegiate Entrepreneurs purposely violated the requirements of safely removing lead from homes and in doing risked the health of families whose houses were being renovated,” said EPA-CID Special Agent in Charge Amon.  “EPA remains focused on holding accountable companies and individuals that cut corners and fail to put public health and safety first.”

This investigation is being conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ray Miller.

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