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1. PRINCIPAL DEFENDANT: Thomas Kennedy (Tom) Tienda
  Colorado  state court - 2008CR000585
Thomas Tienda owned rental properties in Pueblo, Colorado. In April 2006, the Pueblo Building Department condemned one of his apartment properties and ordered it demolished. As part of getting the demolition permit, Tienda was required to have an asbestos survey done on the apartment building. When Tienda realized the cost of a proper asbestos abatement, he delayed demolishing the building and consequently was ordered by a judge to demolish the building or be placed in jail.

Instead of hiring properly licensed contactors to safely demolish the building, Tienda hired homeless individuals and day laborers to remove the asbestos containing materials so he could save money. Tienda hid the fact that his building contained asbestos from all workers.

In addition to intentionally exposing his workers to asbestos, Tienda used some of the asbestos containing material from the demolition as fill for potholes at other properties.

Due to the fact that Tienda created a human health and environmental emergency with his demolition, EPA's Emergency Response group perfomed an emergency removal at the building and the potholes.

April 7, 2008
Tienda was charged with 9 counts of violating state environmental regulations - Causing a Hazardous Substance Incident - C.R.S. 29-22-108; Knowing Endangerment under the Colorado Air Quality Control Act - C.R.S. 29-22-108 and Unlawful Waste Disposal - C.R.S. 30-20-102(2).

CITATION: C.R.S. 29-22-108, C.R.S. 30-20-102(2)
July 29, 2010
Tienda was charged in an amended felony complaint and information with attempting to influence a public servant - a violation of C.R.S. 18-8-306.

CITATION: C.R.S. 18-8-306
October 14, 2011
Tienda went to trial, representing himself. He was convicted on Counts 1 through 7 and Count 10. Counts 8 and 9 were dismissed prior to trial.

February 6, 2012
Tienda was sentenced to 48 months community corrections (half-way house) at the Minnequa Community Corrections Center.

April 12, 2012
Tienda was ordered to pay $1,821.42 to the State of Colorado for the costs of prosecution and investigation.

May 29, 2012
Tienda was issued an order to pay restitution to EPA in the amount of $315,863.64 for the costs incurred by EPA in cleaning up the asbestos contamination.

August 17, 2012
Tienda was re-sentenced to 48 months incarceration.

Press Release
State of Colorado
August 17, 2012


DENVER — Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced today that a Pueblo County District Court judge sentenced Thomas K. Tienda to four years in the Department of Corrections after his demolition of a Pueblo house led to the airborne release of asbestos. A Pueblo jury convicted Tienda of eight felonies.

“Sheer greed drove Tienda to cut costs at the expense of the public and jeopardized the health of vulnerable members of our society, the homeless,” said Colorado Attorney General John Suthers. “A four-year prison sentence is appropriate and proves that this type of unscrupulous behavior will not go unpunished.”

Instead of hiring properly licensed contractors to safely demolish a multi-family house, Tienda hired homeless individuals and handymen to remove asbestos-containing materials to save money. Mr. Tienda hid the fact that his building contained asbestos from all of his workers. The demolition work, which also lacked the proper permit from the City of Pueblo, resulted in the release of asbestos into the air. In addition to intentionally exposing his workers to asbestos, Tienda’s conviction also stemmed from reusing some of the asbestos-contaminated materials from the demolition as fill for potholes at his other properties.

“There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos,” said Jeff Martinez, Acting Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Colorado. “The defendant not only employed unsafe asbestos removal practices, he also tried to cover up his illegal actions. This sentence should send a clear message that the EPA will continue working closely with our state enforcement partners to prosecute those who violate the law and place their private gains over the public's well being.”

The Office of the Attorney General investigated the case with the assistance of the Colorado Environmental Crime Task Force, the Air Quality Unit of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigations Division. Charges were filed against Tienda and the case was prosecuted by the Attorney General and the Pueblo District Attorney.

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