Two Winchester landlords charged and their companies charged with 106 counts of illegal asbestos work

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Two brothers who are Merrimack Valley owners of four companies and apartments marketed to Lowell and Fitchburg college students have been charged with 106 counts of violating the Massachusetts Clean Air Act because of their handling of asbestos, according to state Attorney General Maura Healey.

A statewide grand jury indicted Christopher L. “Christie” DeRosa, 68, and Steven J. DeRosa, 62, on 28 and 22 counts, respectively, of Clean Air Act violations Healey said Wednesday.

The indictments also charge four companies associated with the brothers’ business, she said. DeRosa Properties, LLC, and DeRosa Properties, Inc. — both Massachusetts companies – are each charged with 22 counts of violating the Clean Air Act, the attorney general said.

Greenscape Property & Building Construction Services LLC and Greenscape Property and Building, LLC — New Hampshire businesses allegedly responsible for the Fitchburg violations – are charged with six counts each, Healey said.

The brothers and the companies are accused of illegally demolishing, storing and transporting asbestos waste at apartment houses marketed to college students in Lowell and Fitchburg, she said.

The allegations stem from renovation work at four Lowell apartment buildings and one Fitchburg multi-family home, the attorney general said. Their locations are close to either the University of Massachusetts-Lowell or Fitchburg State University.

The brothers are longtime business partners, landlords and real estate developers throughout the Merrimack Valley, Healey said.

They will be arraigned on the charges in Middlesex Superior Court and Worcester Superior Court at a later date.

Asbestos is a hazardous material and known carcinogen regulated under the Clean Air Act. It is used as fire proofing in a wide variety of building materials, from roofing and flooring, to siding and wallboard, to caulking and insulation. It is especially prevalent in older buildings.

If asbestos is improperly handled or maintained, fibers can be released into the air and inhaled, damaging the lungs, causing scarring, malfunction and potentially life-threatening illnesses, including asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Once disturbed, asbestos fibers can remain airborne and therefore breathable for up to 72 hours. Because of the serious health risks associated with asbestos, there is no safe level of exposure.

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