School districts must use extreme caution in the use of mold-killing or inhibiting products. The EPA Indoor Air Quality division DOES NOT recommend the routine use of antifungals, for instance, as these are classified as pesticides and the EPA states, "Biocides are toxic to humans, as well as to mold." (see below). Yet, without informing parents or school staff, thousands of schools throughout the United States are "fogged" or sprayed with fungicides, indoors. Worse yet, some disreputable companies may make false claims about a product and scam the school district, subjecting the occupants to unknown chemicals that can sicken them. "A 2004 Courant article about the scheme noted some students and staff still were sick — if not sicker — after the mold removal work was done (Hartford Courant, below). " In their haste to use a "cheap fix", school districts may poison the occupants further with chemicals. These articles show how a NY man deceived and allegedly "bilked" three school districts in CT: Easton, Bristol and Manchester. Further, "Schongar also deceived representatives from the three school districts by falsely representing that he and Microb Phase had a partnering relationship with the EPA when no such relationship existed, Dannehy said."
School districts - there are no cheap fixes for mold. You must remove the mold through proper remediation techniques. Be forewarned. (SMH)
Man pleads guilty to fraud involving mold in schools
(Visit the Bristol Press link above to read and post comments)
(New Haven, CT)
Saturday, January 31, 2009 9:22 PM EST
For The Herald Press
NEW HAVEN — A New York man pleaded guilty Friday to a single count of mail fraud in connection with a mold remediation scheme in which he bilked three public school districts, including Bristol.
Ronald Schongar, 62, of Clifton Park, N.Y., using the company name Microb Phase contracted with the Bristol, Easton and Manchester school districts from 2001 to 2004 to apply “Microb Shield,” a product intended to remediate the presence of mold in buildings.
In so doing, Schongar deceived school officials in claiming that “Microb Shield” was a product registered with the U.S. Enviornmental Protection Agency, according to Nora R. Dannehy, acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut,
However, “Microb Shield” was never registered with the EPA and the product bearing EPA registration number 64881-3 that Schongar provided school officials was, in reality, “Microbe Shield,” and registered to AEGIS Environmental of Midland, Mich, Dannehy added.
Furthermore, Schongar and his company had no authorization from AEGIS Environmental to apply the “Microbe Shield” product or to use EPA registration number 64881-3 to promote any product.
Schongar also deceived representatives from the three school districts by falsely representing that he and Microb Phase had a partnering relationship with the EPA when no such relationship existed, Dannehy said.
A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for April 17 in U.S. District Court, at which time Schongar can face a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a fine of up to $250,000
No Jail Time Recommended In School Mold Remediation Scheme
By CHRISTINE DEMPSEY | The Hartford Courant
6:58 PM EST, January 30, 2009
Federal prosecutors are recommending no jail time for a New York man who pleaded guilty today to a charge of mail fraud in connection with a mold remediation scheme that defrauded three school districts in Connecticut.
Ronald Schongar, 62, of Clifton Park pleaded guilty before Judge Ellen Bree Burns in U.S. District Court in New Haven, according to the U.S. Attorney's office. Under a plea agreement, he is expected to get probation — which would include home confinement and community service — when he is sentenced April 17. The violations carry a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.
According to court documents, from 2001 and 2004, school systems in Bristol, Manchester and Easton hired Schongar to use "The Microb Phase Process" and apply the product "Microb Shield" as part of mold remediation services for school buildings. His company was called Microb Phase.
He deceived representatives of the school districts by falsely representing that "Microb Shield" was registered with the Environmental Protection Agency, bearing registration number 64881-3.
It turned out that Schongar's "Microb Shield" was never registered with the EPA, but there is a product called "Microbe Shield" that is licensed under that number with the EPA. Microbe Shield was registered by AEGIS Environmental of Midland, Mich.
Schongar and his company were not authorized to apply "Microbe Shield" or use the registration number, the U.S. Attorney's office said.
What Schongar's company used in the treatments was not readily apparent in the records available Friday.
A 2004 Courant article about the scheme noted some students and staff still were sick — if not sicker — after the mold removal work was done. But Schongar's lawyer, Robert C. Mirto, said today that the substance his client used was not harmful. He didn't know exactly what the ingredients were.
"It was a product that was non-harmful and actually did the job," he said.
The mail fraud charge stems from an instance when the City of Bristol sent a check to Schongar. The treated schools in Bristol were Green Hills, Northeast and O'Connell elementary schools. In Manchester, Illing Middle School and Bowers, Highland Park and Keeney elementary schools were treated. In Easton, work was done at Samuel Staples Elementary School.
The problems at the buildings where Schongar did work have since been addressed.
The case was investigated by the EPA's criminal investigation division, with help from the Easton Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward T. Kang and Speical Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Lauterback.
Man pleads guilty in Easton mold case
By Michael P. Mayko
Updated: 01/30/2009 11:19:13 PM EST
NEW HAVEN -- The long-delayed criminal prosecution of Ronald Schongar ended Friday when the owner of a mold-remediation company pleaded guilty to defrauding school systems in Easton, Bristol and Manchester.
Ronald Schongar, 62, of Clifton Park, N.Y., who operated Microb Phase, pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud during proceedings before Senior U.S. District Judge Ellen Bree Burns.
While the mail fraud charge carries a maximum 20-year prison term, the federal sentencing guidelines recommend Schongar receive a prison term in the range of four to 24 months. Burns set April 17 for sentencing.
Schongar was indicted in 2006 on three counts of mail fraud and two counts of wire fraud stemming from a scheme to remove mold from school buildings in the Easton, Bristol and Manchester districts. He claimed he applied a product called Microb Shield, which he said was registered with the Environmental Protection Agency and that he had an arrangement with the agency.
There is a product called Microb Shield, which is registered with the EPA, but it is owned by AEGIS Environmental in Midland, Mich. Schongar had no authorization to use or advertise it.
Schongar was hired to remove mold from Samuel Staples School in Easton between 2000 and 2003. While the work was being done, several teachers and students complained about respiratory problems, upset stomachs and skin rashes.
Authorities searched his home on Jan. 14, 2003, and seized documents attesting to his qualification. Some were believed to be counterfeit.
Schongar, who is represented by Robert Mirto, suffered a heart attack during his trial in September 2007. As a result, Burns ordered a mistrial.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward T. Kang and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Lauterback. The case was investigated by Easton police and the Environmental Protection Agency's criminal investigation division.
Man pleads guilty in mold-removal fraud case
January 31, 2009 NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Federal prosecutors say the owner of a mold remediation company has pleaded guilty to defrauding school systems in Easton, Bristol and Manchester.
Authorities say 62-year-old Ronald Schongar of Clifton Park, N.Y., pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud in U.S. District Court in New Haven on Friday. He had been indicted in 2006 on three counts of mail fraud and two counts of wire fraud.
Schongar operated Microb Phase, a company hired by the school districts to remove mold from their buildings. Prosecutors say Schongar claimed he applied a certain product, but that he had no authorization to use or advertise it.
Authorities say he is expected to be sentenced to between four and 24 months in prison when he is sentenced April 17.
Information from: Connecticut Post, http://www.connpost.com
Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
This is from the EPA document: Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings
Mold Remediation/Cleanup and Biocides
The purpose of mold remediation is to remove the mold to prevent human exposure and damage to building materials and furnishings. It is necessary to clean up mold contamination, not just to kill the mold. Dead mold is still allergenic, and some dead molds are potentially toxic. The use of a biocide, such as chlorine bleach, is not recommended as a routine practice during mold remediation, although there may be instances where professional judgment may indicate its use (for example, when immune-compromised individuals are present). In most cases, it is not possible or desirable to sterilize an area; a background level of mold spores will remain in the air (roughly equivalent to or lower than the level in outside air). These spores will not grow if the moisture problem in the building has been resolved.
If you choose to use disinfectants or biocides, always ventilate the area. Outdoor air may need to be brought in with fans. When using fans, take care not to distribute mold spores throughout an unaffected area. Biocides are toxic to humans, as well as to mold. You should also use appropriate PPE and read and follow label precautions. Never mix chlorine bleach solution with cleaning solutions or detergents that contain ammonia; toxic fumes could be produced.
Some biocides are considered pesticides, and some States require that only registered pesticide applicators apply these products in schools. Make sure anyone applying a biocide is properly licensed, if necessary. Fungicides are commonly applied to outdoor plants, soil, and grains as a dust or spray -- examples include hexachlorobenzene, organomercurials, pentachlorophenol, phthalimides, and dithiocarbamates. Do not use fungicides developed for use outdoors for mold remediation or for any other indoor situation.
Background articles on this case:
Mold case reopens
|Easton, CT: Staples trial reopens || || || |
Written by Maggie Caldwell
Sunday, July 06, 2008
The trial against Ronald Schongar, who was hired several years ago to perform mold remediation of the former Samuel Staples Elementary School, has been set for Aug. 19.
Judge Ellen B. Burns will hear the case scheduled at 10 a.m. at the federal courthouse in New Haven.
The U.S. Department of Justice has notified the town that it has been labeled as a victim in the case of United States v. Ronald Schongar.
First Selectman Tom Herrmann posted notice of the trial since some may consider themselves possible victims in the case.
The Easton school district, along with several others, is part of the lawsuit against Mr. Schongar pertaining to the services he provided. Anyone who wishes to take a direct position in connection with Mr. Schongar’s trial is asked to contact the first selectman’s office.
The trial, previously set for January, had been delayed because of the defendant’s medical condition.
In his notice, Mr. Herrmann warned residents that hearing dates may change on very short notice. Those who wish to attend may want to call the VNS Call Center or check the Web site to confirm the date and time.
Information about the case is available at notify.usdoj.gov.
17 NIOSH Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-2004-0138-2967, Samuel Staples Elementary School, Easton, Connecticut
has served as vice President for 10 years.Ron Schongar
lists the following among personal credentials: Mold
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