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MADISON Brian S. Johnson, a City of Jefferson resident, was convicted and sentenced today in Jefferson County Circuit Court for failing to remove asbestos before demolishing buildings and a second count of illegal open burning. Judge Jackie Rohloff Erwin accepted the plea agreement of the parties and sentenced Mr. Johnson to a 20 day jail sentence.
According to the criminal complaint, Johnson purchased the old County farm and nursing home from Jefferson County in March 2005. Johnson hired contractors to renovate, demolish, and burn buildings on site. A number of agricultural buildings were demolished without first removing asbestos from the buildings and then burning them in violation of Wisconsin's asbestos and burning regulations.
Johnson was charged criminally because his violations were intentional. Mr. Johnson was placed on notice when he purchased the property that various buildings contained asbestos which would need to be removed before they were demolished. In addition, Johnson was advised by various government officials that he could not burn the demolition debris. Despite these warnings, Johnson intentionally demolished and burned the buildings with the asbestos in place.
Johnson subsequently lost the property to foreclosure and the site is being cleaned up by the latest purchaser.
The violations were detected by the Watertown Health inspector performing asbestos inspections for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, with the follow up investigation being completed by the DNR. The DNR referred the case to the Attorney General and the case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Steven Tinker.