Anthony Crompton, the former real estate director of a nonprofit agency that littered a Kansas City development site with asbestos, was sentenced Tuesday to a half-way house and federal probation.
Crompton, 42, admitted in October that he violated the Clean Air Act by improperly removing asbestos-containing materials while demolishing numerous homes to make way for the proposed Citadel Plaza Redevelopment Project.
Though the prosecutor said a sentence of probation would reflect Crompton’s cooperation against his co-defendant, former Community Development Corporation of Kansas City president William M. Threatt Jr., U.S. District Judge Gary Fenner disagreed.
Fenner noted that the redevelopment site — bounded by 60th Street to the north, 63rd Street to the south, Prospect Avenue on the east and Brooklyn Avenue to the west — remains significantly contaminated with asbestos and has become an even greater burden for the city to redevelop.
“Given the impact of the conduct you participated in on the community at large, and your clear knowledge that asbestos was present and not being handled as required by law some period of incarceration is called for,” Fenner said.
Fenner ordered Crompton to serve three years on probation, including five months in a half-way house.
Threatt, 71, who also was charged in the case, pleaded guilty in February. His sentencing date has not been set.
The Kansas City Star first reported that asbestos contaminated the area in 2006. A reporter found that scores of homes built with asbestos-contaminated materials had been demolished and that no asbestos permits had been obtained.
Health inspectors quickly shut down work at the site as they investigated and confirmed the newspaper’s findings.
Acting U.S. Attorney David Ketchmark acknowledged Tuesday that the contamination occurred because the corporation was trying to save money on an expensive cleanup effort, and was not part of an effort to unjustly enrich its officers.
“They wanted to take that material out under the cover of darkness to limit their development costs,” Ketchmark said. “Because corners were cut, the city is suffering, because that property has become an eyesore.”
After purchasing much of the property from Research Medical Center, the development corporation announced plans to build a 35-acre shopping center, including a full-service grocery, retailers, restaurants and homes.
Years passed, however, and the area became more and more contaminated with building materials that had been left in huge piles and in nearby woods.
In June 2010, federal prosecutors charged Threatt and Crompton with ignoring environmental laws that require careful inspection, removal, disposal and detailed recordkeeping of asbestos-containing building materials.
Crompton apologized to Fenner for his part in the scheme.
“I take full responsibility for my actions,” Crompton said. “Nothing like this will ever happen again.”
Earlier this year the city agreed to pay $15 million to settle lawsuits related to the case. For its money, the city obtained most of the property and the rights to make another redevelopment attempt.
In pleading for straight probation for Crompton, defense lawyer Mike Yonke noted that his client had helped prosecutors resolve the case against Threatt.
“Mr. Crompton has cooperated with the government, and his agreement to testify was instrumental in having Mr. Threatt come in and plead,” Yonke said.