gavel.jpgThe owner of a Hayward-based safety consulting company has pleaded guilty in federal court in San Francisco to two counts related to issuing fraudulent training certificates for asbestos workers.

Rogelio Lowe, also known as Roger Lowe, 44, of Thornton in San Joaquin County, pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud on Thursday.

Lowe is the owner of E&D Environmental Safety Training Inc. of Hayward, which trains workers in handling asbestos and other hazardous materials.

Under federal law, workers seeking certification in asbestos removal must take a four-day training course for eight hours per day.

Lowe was accused in a grand jury indictment in October of carrying out a scheme between 2007 and 2009 to issue certificates without providing the required amount of training.

The indictment alleged Lowe didn’t teach courses for the required number of hours, gave students answers to tests and forged test results for students who missed a day of class.

He nevertheless charged the students’ employers or the students themselves up to $600 per student for the course, the indictment alleged.

One of the mail fraud counts to which Lowe pleaded guilty was for mailing a fraudulent student roster and training validation form to the California Occupational Safety and Health Division in August 2008, which falsely certified that six students had completed the training.

The second count related to the mailing of a check for student registration fees.
Defense attorney Colin Cooper said the plea agreement provides for a sentence of between two and 10 months in prison.

Cooper said Lowe is remorseful.

“He’s a good guy who made a mistake and will redeem himself,” Cooper said.

The defense attorney said Lowe, who is free on a $50,000 bond, is continuing to operate the company, but his license to provide asbestos training has been suspended.

Asbestos, once used in buildings because of its fire-resistant qualities but now banned, is linked to lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.

Lowe was originally accused of nine additional counts of making false statements on student training certificates, but prosecutors will dismiss those counts as part of the plea agreement.

He will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White on Dec. 2.

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