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Mesothelioma Lawyer - Article - Asbestos Case Witness Sentenced to Prison

Posted on Feb 14, 2006 | timesunion.com

Asbestos Case Witness Sentenced to Prison

Kevin Pilgrim found guilty of perjury in landmark environmental trial

By BRENDAN LYONS , Staff writer

A former Schenectady man will spend 10 months in federal prison for his role in one of the nation's largest asbestos scandals. Kevin Pilgrim, 38, a Canadian immigrant who graduated from Union College , was prosecuted on perjury charges after he took the stand as a defense witness during the 2004 trial of former Loudonville residents Raul and Alex Salvagno, and their company, AAR Contractor Inc.

Pilgrim later admitted that he lied under oath, as a defense witness, about a conspiracy at AAR to manipulate lab reports and cut corners while removing dangerous asbestos at hundreds of facilities, including schools, government buildings and businesses. Many of the projects took place in this area.

A federal judge in Syracuse sentenced Pilgrim on Friday.

"He acknowledged that he regularly removed asbestos dry, had observed indoor snowstorms, saw AAR workers not wearing respirators at numerous projects, knew that laboratory analysis was regularly falsified and used, and observed Alex Salvagno using cocaine," the U.S. attorney's office said in a release issued Monday.

Raul and Alexander Salvagno were found guilty at trial of racketeering and conspiracy to violate the federal Clean Air Act and Toxic Substances Control Act. Raul Salvagno was sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison and Alex Salvagno to 25 years.

Pilgrim had faced a maximum five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Howard G. Munson to remand Pilgrim immediately to prison, but the judge allowed him to report to a federal prison by March 28.

As the first witness called by defense attorneys for the Salvagnos, Pilgrim testified he worked for the Salvagnos for four years at AAR Contractor of Latham and Analytical Laboratories of Albany and never observed or participated in illegal asbestos activities.

Pilgrim, who now lives in Midvale, Utah , said Alex Salvagno contacted him repeatedly by telephone to inform him of the government's case and what he should say on the witness stand.

Alex Salvagno and Pilgrim were classmates at the Rochester Institute of Technology before Salvagno dropped out. Pilgrim, who graduated from Union College with a bachelor's degree in applied mathematics, lived for a time with the Salvagnos.

Pilgrim held several positions at the Salvagno companies, including director of training at the laboratories, prosecutors said.

The five-month trial of Alex Salvagno and his 71-year-old father was the longest criminal environmental trial in U.S. history.

Asbestos has been determined to cause asbestosis, a lung disease, and mesothelioma, a form of cancer that is always fatal.

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