Texas company charged with defrauding Bureau of Prisons for asbestos removal at prison in Wisconsin
MADISON – A Texas company that was hired to remove asbestos from the correctional facility in Oxford is facing federal fraud charges for illegally disposing of its waste.
Brazos Urethane Inc. is charged with conspiracy to defraud the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Timothy M. O’Shea, the U.S. Attorney for Wisconsin’s Western District, on Friday announced a criminal information and deferred prosecution agreement with Brazos had been reached.
Brazos, headquartered in Texas City, Texas, near Houston, was awarded a $4 million contract in 2014 by the Bureau of Prisons to replace roofs on buildings located at the Oxford Federal Correctional Institution.
The roofing project involved getting rid of materials that contained asbestos, which requires the use of special removal and disposal procedures to guard against contamination.
As part of the contract, Brazos certified it would maintain a safe work environment, follow all federal and state laws regarding the removal and disposal of hazardous waste materials and obtain all necessary permits from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Instead, prosecutors alleged Brazos dumped roofing waste materials from the Oxford worksite onto a property it purchased near the prison in early 2015.
The roofing waste materials were found to contain asbestos by Wisconsin DNR regulators in November 2015, and by EPA regulators in December 2021, a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Brazos concealed the illegal dumping from the Bureau and the Wisconsin DNR, then lied about its cleanup efforts once the company was caught, O’Shea said.
“Brazos dumping hazardous material on a residential property wasn’t just dangerous for the community, it was defrauding the United States government,” William J. Hannah, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General Midwest Region, said in a statement.
Federal Correctional Institution Oxford is a low-security facility located in Adams County, about 60 miles from Madison, that serves 1,024 male inmates.
In 2022, the Wisconsin DNR ordered Brazos to properly and completely clean up the roofing waste. That three-week effort cost Brazos $480,000.
Charges against Brazos can be dismissed if the company pays a monetary penalty of $300,000 (which is roughly the amount it tried to save by engaging in illegal dumping), and by entering a three-year corporate compliance program designed to prevent further violations of contract fraud and federal environmental laws.
“The United States requires contractors like Brazos to comply with regulations for the proper removal and disposal of materials containing asbestos,” O’Shea said. “When contractors fail to comply, they not only defraud the United States, they also endanger their employees and the community. This charge is meant to hold Brazos accountable and deter other contractors from engaging in similar conduct.”
The case against Brazos resulted from an investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General. The prosecution of the case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel J. Graber.