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State suspends inspector over alleged false reports

The state inspector accused of falsifying asbestos inspection reports at Kensington Heights has been suspended without pay, the state Labor Department said Sunday.

State inspector Theodore Lehmann was suspended without pay as of Wednesday, said Labor Department spokesman Leo Rosales.

"He is not in the office. He is not working," Rosales said.

Lehmann, 65, as well as City of Buffalo building inspectors William Manuszewski, 57, and Donald Grzebielucha, 56, have been accused by federal authorities of covering up the illegal disposal of asbestos at the Kensington Heights housing project on Fillmore Avenue.

They were among the nine individuals and two companies indicted Aug. 4 in connection with the asbestos-removal project.

Grzebielucha has retired from the city, but a spokesman for Mayor Byron W. Brown last week said Manuszewski remains on the job, although his duties have been curtailed.

"Right now, the city is just trying to gather information," Brown spokesman Michael J. DeGeorge said last week.

The state last week said that Lehmann also remained on the job but that disciplinary action was being pursued, and "the matter is pending."

Sunday, Rosales contacted The Buffalo News to say that action had been taken. Lehmann was suspended without pay in midweek, he said.

"We were pursuing disciplinary charges, and we subsequently suspended him without pay," he said.

The 62-page indictment on the Kensington housing project centers around the work done by two companies, Johnson Contracting of Buffalo and JMD Environmental Inc. of Grand Island, and the allegations that they violated the federal Clean Air Act by improperly disposing of asbestos at the long-vacant Kensington housing projects.

The indictment accuses Manuszewski of four counts, and Grzebielucha five counts, of making and using false final inspection reports relating to all six of the buildings at Kensington Heights. The defendants specifically certified in the final inspection reports that all asbestos had been removed from the buildings, when, in fact, the defendants knew that all asbestos had not been removed.

Lehmann, an inspector with the Labor Department's Asbestos Control Bureau, is charged with concealing the improper asbestos abatement activities that were occurring at Kensington Heights.

"The oversight agencies included the City of Buffalo, two specific inspectors, Mr. [William] Manuszewski and Mr. [Donald] Grzebielucha, and also Mr. Theodore Lehmann, the inspector for the state Department of Labor Asbestos Control Bureau. They were present, and they, in fact, created false documents or lied about what it was they say," said U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr.

email: citydesk@buffnews.com

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