Former professional football player pleads guilty in asbestos case

Sean P. Doctor went from professional football to fighting fires to owning his own asbestos removal company. It was the last move that led to trouble.

Doctor, now 50, admitted Monday making a false statement – he filed a false hazardous waste manifest – as part of an asbestos removal project at Roosevelt Park in Buffalo in 2010.

Scheduled to go on trial next week, Doctor faces a recommended sentence of up to a year in prison after Monday's guilty plea. However, defense attorney Paul J. Cambria Jr. said he will ask for probation and federal prosecutors have agreed not to oppose his request.

Two other defendants, Raj Chopra and Comprehensive Employment Management Inc., the Grand Island company he owns, also took guilty pleas in the case. Chopra, pleaded to a misdemeanor charge of being an accessory to a false statement and faces up to six months in prison when he is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara, but he will also ask for probation. The company faces a fine of up to $25,000 for its role in the incident.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango said a fourth defendant, S.D. Specialty Services LLC, a Grand Island company owned by Doctor, also was charged in the case but those charges are expected to be dropped.

Originally charged in a 16-count indictment in 2012, Doctor and Chopra were accused of numerous violations of the Clean Air Act relating to three asbestos abatement projects in Buffalo, including the Roosevelt Park removal. Authorities said the asbestos was not properly secured or disposed of, meaning it could have blown about in the wind and caused health problems for nearby residents.

Doctor, a former star running back at Marshall University, was drafted by the Bills in the sixth round in 1989, but he was later released. He also spent 20 years with the Buffalo Fire Department before recently retiring.

The guilty pleas in the asbestos case are the result of an investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Criminal Investigation Division, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Police and the New York State Department of Labor's Asbestos Control Bureau.


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