Long Island Contractor Charged with Performing Lead-Based Paint Removal in Violation of the Toxic Substances Control Act

An indictment was unsealed today in federal court in Central Islip charging Rickey Lynch with violating the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (“TSCA”), making false statements and aggravated identity theft.  Lynch is the first person to be charged with a felony violation of TSCA since the statute was amended in 2016 to include enhanced punishments for certain conduct posing a risk of death or serious bodily injury.  Lynch was arrested this morning and will be arraigned this afternoon before United States District Judge Gary R. Brown.

Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Tyler Amon, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division, New York (EPA), announced the charges.

“As alleged, the defendant placed a very young child at serious risk of continued exposure to toxic chemical hazards by deliberately disregarding federal standards that ensure the safe remediation of lead-based paint.  He then compounded the risk of harm by lying and falsifying documents in a failed effort to establish his purported compliance with those standards,” stated Acting United States Attorney Kasulis.  “Today’s arrest serves as a warning that those who circumvent environmental regulations that protect the community from the well-known dangers of lead-based paint will face the consequences.”

“Defendant Lynch knowingly violated the requirements of safely removing lead from a home and in so doing endangered the health of a vulnerable family,” stated EPA Special Agent-in-Charge Amon.  “The EPA remains focused on holding accountable companies and individuals that cut corners and fail to put public health and safety first.”

As alleged in the indictment, in January 2020, Lynch’s company, Bright Lights Supreme Cleaning, Inc., was retained by residents of Freeport, Long Island, to remediate hazardous lead-based paint from their home after the family’s two-year-old son was found to have elevated levels of lead in his blood.  Federal regulations require that lead-based paint abatement work be performed and supervised by individuals who have been certified by the EPA.  The regulations also establish work practice standards to ensure that lead-based paint removal is done safely.  Over the course of several days, Lynch remediated the lead-based paint himself, despite lacking the proper certification to either perform or supervise such work. Lynch also failed to comply with various work practice standards and did not use a High Efficiency Particulate Air (“HEPA”) filtration system that would have contained the spread of toxic dust and debris throughout the house.  As a result of Lynch’s failure to comply with the regulations, lead dust exceeding legally permissible limits spread throughout the house. 

In addition, Lynch faces charges of making false statements and aggravated identity theft related to his responses to an inquiry by the EPA.  Specifically, Lynch took steps to obstruct the agency’s investigation by supplying a fake subcontractor agreement, an affidavit and other documents that contained the forged signature of an individual Lynch falsely identified as having supervised the abatement work on the Freeport residence. 

The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.  Under TSCA, the maximum sentence for conviction of a violation that places one or more individuals at risk of death or serious bodily injury is 15 years’ imprisonment.

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Long Island Criminal Division.  Assistant United States Attorney Anthony Bagnuola is in charge of the prosecution.

The Defendant:

RICKEY LYNCH

Age:  58

Arverne, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 21-CR-405 (GRB)

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