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Former Detroit Lead Inspector Sentenced for Fraud

Release Date: 02/08/2011
Contact Information: Stacy Kika, kika.stacy@epa.gov, 202-564-0906, 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON — Former city of Detroit Health Department lead inspector Donald Patterson was sentenced today to three years and 10 months in prison and 24 months of supervised release on wire fraud charges stemming from an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) investigation. In July 2010, Patterson pleaded guilty and admitted he accepted cash to provide a clean bill of health to homes in which he had either done no inspection or provided fraudulent lead removal training. Lead is a serious public health issue causing a range of health effects from behavioral problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and death. Children six years old and under are most at risk.

“The actions of this public official put the health and lives of children at risk,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “In this case, the local government inspector failed to do his job by submitting false reports for personal gain. Today’s sentencing shows that those who knowingly put the public at risk, particularly our most vulnerable citizens, our children, will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Patterson, 50, was employed by the city of Detroit as a lead paint inspector. His job was to ensure that all paint-based lead hazards were safely removed from the homes he inspected. Instead, Patterson used his position to obtain cash from the owners or renters of these homes in exchange for falsely certifying that the homes were free of lead or for providing fraudulent lead removal training. Patterson admitted that between October 2008 and August 2009 he had accepted cash totaling $1,350 in connection with fraudulent abatement of lead hazards to which children were being exposed at four separate properties.

The Patterson case was investigated by EPA and the FBI, with assistance from the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan.

Michigan residents who have concerns about possible lead hazards in their homes should call the Michigan Department of Community Health Hotline at 800-648-6942.

More information on EPA’s criminal enforcement program:
http://www.epa.gov/compliance/criminal/index.html

To report an environmental violation:
http://www.epa.gov/compliance/complaints/index.html

More information on lead:
http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/leadinfo.htm#health