Two Mancuso brothers convicted in 2009 of covering up an illegal Utica-based asbestos removal operation recently had their prison punishments shortened after a federal judge erred in sentencing them.

Paul Mancuso could now be released from federal prison sometime in 2014, after Senior U.S. District Judge Frederick Scullin Jr. on Dec. 7 chopped two years off of Mancuso’s sentence, from 6 ½ years to 4 ½ years.

Mancuso’s younger brother, Steven Mancuso, also had a few months shaved off his sentence, but he is still scheduled to be released from prison early as planned sometime next year. Steven Mancuso would then be transferred to a half-way house in Syracuse to begin his reintegration into the community and to fulfill the remainder of his 3 ½ year sentence.

The Mancusos were sentenced by Scullin in June 2010 following a trial that convicted the brothers and their father, Lester Mancuso, for conspiring to cover-up the family’s shoddy asbestos work across the Mohawk Valley over a number of years.

Lester Mancuso was sentenced to 3 years in prison, but he did not appeal his conviction.

The re-sentencings were in response to a Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruling earlier this year that noted Scullin’s error in sentencing the Mancuso brothers.

In Paul Mancuso’s case, Scullin committed a procedural error by sentencing Paul to a more enhanced punishment than was allowed. In Steven Mancuso’s case, Scullin wrongfully stated that Steven had violated permit requirements in disposing of hazardous asbestos, which were not required under the law.

On Wednesday, Paul Mancuso’s attorney, Edward Menkin, said the reduced sentencing was a “significant step in the right direction,” especially since federal prosecutors argued that Paul’s sentence should have remained the same.

“Of course, Paul is grateful for the reduction in his time,” Menkin said. “But nevertheless, he’s still in jail and it’s not a good place to be, especially during the holidays.”

Steven Mancuso, a former attorney, has already been disbarred from practicing law for committing perjury on the stand during his trial and for using his legal skills to help cover-up his brother’s crimes.

During the re-sentencing earlier this month, Scullin noted that Steven Mancuso has nearly completed a prison drug treatment program with success.

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–A Nolensville, Tennessee man pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court Monday, to creating a false and fictitious permit so two gas pipelines could be built under Barren River, announced David J. Hale, United States Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky.

Peter Grimes admitted to knowingly and willfully making a false permit authorization letter, and submitted it to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection.

In his change of plea, Grimes admitted an inspector with the Division of Water, Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection (“KDEP”), discovered Gulfstar had constructed a gas pipeline under the Barren River in two locations.

When KDEP asked Gulfstar for its permit, in January 2008, Gulfstar passed the request on to Energy Management Services and Peter Grimes. At the time, Grimes was working as a professional consultant, charged with obtaining all necessary permits. According to an interview with Grimes, the gas pipelines had been constructed in August and September 2007.

In January 2008, Grimes manufactured and submitted a fraudulent and fictitious U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit authorization letter to an inspector for the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

This was to create the false impression that construction of the pipeline in Barren River had been conducted pursuant to a valid permit. Grimes also submitted the permit authorization letter to an employee of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Louisville, Kentucky.

Grimes admitted he manufactured a written authorization on the letterhead of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This entire document was false and fictitious, and it was material to the regulatory activities of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection agency, whose authority is delegated to Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection, which was investigating whether the gas pipeline had been properly permitted. The false document was also material to regulatory activities of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency investigating whether the permit had been properly issued.

“To assure compliance with environmental laws, governments need complete and accurate documents,” said Maureen O’Mara, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Kentucky. “The defendant compounded his failure to secure the required permits by forging them. Violators who submit false information, undermine our efforts to protect the public and the environment. Today’s guilty plea should serve as a warning to anyone who knowingly falsifies official documents: you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Sentencing is set for March 13, 2012 at 2:30 p.m. before United States District Judge Charles R. Simpson in Louisville, Kentucky. Grimes faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years, a maximum fine of $250,000, and a three year term of supervised release.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Joshua Judd. It was investigated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigations.

An asbestos removal contractor who ignored orders from both WorkSafeBC and the B.C. Supreme Court to stop exposing “vulnerable” workers to asbestos will be sentenced Jan. 23 for contempt of court.

WorkSafeBC inspectors found that Arthur Moore of AM Environmental used employees as young as 14 years of age to remove asbestos-contaminated drywall from homes being demolished without providing them any protection.

He continued to do this despite restraining orders from the B.C. Supreme Court.

Moore, who was arrested for contempt of court, appeared in court Thursday without legal counsel.

Speaking to sentencing, Workers’ Compensation Board lawyer Scott Nielsen told Justice Richard Goepel that Moore “contrary to the court’s order exposed workers as young as 14 to a life threatening substance.”

He said WCB statistics on the effects of asbestos were unequivocal.

“Asbestos kills. It was the leading killer of workers in B.C. in 2009, responsible for 44 per cent of all deaths arising from employment,” said Nielsen.

Nielsen said Moore’s contempt should command a “severe response” — a sentence at the upper end of the scale.

He asked for a jail sentence of between six to 12 months.

Goepel reserved judgment but advised Moore to have his affairs in order when he next attends court.