Apartment executive sentenced to federal prison for exposing Overlook at Mile High tenants to asbestos dust
A manager of the Overlook at Mile High in Denver has been sentenced to 8 months in federal prison after his company released asbestos dust during a remodeling project while tenants were still living in the building.
Senior federal Judge Lewis Babcock also fined John Tom Williams, 58, $100,000 and ordered him to serve a year of conditional release following his prison term.
Babcock also sentenced Williams’ company, Dallas-based WillMax Capital Management Inc., to five years of probation on a felony charge.
“I don’t think you should be allowed to run apartment complexes anymore,” Katelyn Eitzel, 31, told Williams during his sentencing hearing on Wednesday. Eitzel was one of 108 residents at the apartment complex who were exposed to asbestos during the January 2014 remodeling project.
The project was supervised by Williams and Willmax at the time the asbestos was released, court records say. In allowing the hazardous substance to be released, Williams endangered the lives of Denver residents during a period of time when the Denver Broncos played two playoff games at nearby Sports Authority Field at Mile High, according to charging documents.
“I was one of the victims,” Jack Girard, 35, another resident of the apartment complex testified. “The fact that (Williams) has not seen a jail cell is appalling.”
“This is not civil negligence,” Babcock said. “This is criminal negligence.”
Girard took issue with a claim by Williams’ attorney Richard Kornfeld that a contractor was to blame when he sanded concrete in hallways of two of the towers. He said when he signed his contract to live at the apartments it said that if he drilled holes in the walls or the floor he would first have to get permission from the office.
“He’s trying to delegate the blame to (the contractor). He has terrible character,” Girard said of Williams. “He lied to us.”
Alex Chavez, who was a maintenance worker at the complex for seven years, testified that Babcock postponed resolution of the company’s restitution. He said the final determination of restitution will be resolved within 90 days. But he added that the health implications of residents may not be known until decades later.
“My shame and regret for this is profound,” Williams told the judge. He acknowledged that his “mistake” endangered the lives of more than 100 people.
Williams had faced a maximum of one year in prison.
Towers 3 and 8 of the Overlook, 3190 W. 14th Ave., are marketed online as being within walking distance of the Pepsi Center and Mile High Stadium. “The Overlook at Mile High puts Auraria campus, 16th Street Mall, the business district, cultural and sporting events at your fingertips.”
The Denver Broncos played two playoff games at the Denver stadium in January 2014. The Broncos beat the San Diego Chargers, 24-17, on Jan. 12, 2014. The team beat the New England Patriots 26-16 the following Sunday in the AFC championship game that was attended by more than 77,000 fans.