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BOSTON — The owner of a Methuen-based asbestos removal training school and temporary employment agency was convicted this week for selling training certificates to hundreds of illegal aliens who had not taken the mandatory courses and sent them out to perform asbestos removal work, paying them under the table.
Albania Deleon, 39, of Andover, formerly of Salem, N.H., was convicted Wednesday after a two-and-a-half-week trial in U.S. District Court.
A jury convicted her of one count of conspiracy to make false statements, to encourage illegal aliens to reside in the United States and to hire illegal aliens, five counts of making false statements within the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency, 16 counts of procuring false payroll tax returns, and five counts of mail fraud.
She faces up to five years on every count, except for the mail fraud counts, which carry 20-year maximum sentences. Deleon will be sentenced on Feb. 17 by U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel Gorton.
"For her own personal gain, the defendant engaged in a pattern of conduct that directly undermined the government's ability to protect the public from asbestos exposure by exploiting hundreds of migrant laborers," U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan said in a statement.
Exposure to asbestos can cause serious illness, including cancer.
From approximately 2001 to 2006, Deleon owned and operated Environmental Compliance Training, a certified asbestos removal training school at 2 Charles St., Methuen.
The school offered classes twice a week, but hundreds of the recipients who earned certificates never took the 32-hour required courses. Deleon would have the recipients sign final examination sheets that were already completed and graded, to cover up the practice, charging them $400 for the bogus documents.
The certificates are required by the Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety.
Many illegal aliens would skip the four-day course so they wouldn't have to forgo a week's pay. Most of those people were then sent to Methuen Staffing, Deleon's temporary employment agency that specializes in asbestos demolition.
She used fake Social Security numbers to hire the illegal aliens and set up two separate payrolls to avoid paying taxes. Some employees were paid and taxed on one payroll, but the bulk of her workers were paid under the table. They were told to cash their checks at a Lawrence liquor store.
She defrauded the government of more than $800,000 in tax payments from 2001 to 2005. She was first arrested in the summer of 2007 for awarding the false certificates after an investigation involving an undercover officer and cooperating witness uncovered her operation,
EAGLE TRIBUNE
 
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