AG Frosh Secures Conviction Against Woman who Falsified Lead Paint Certificates

Reposted from http://www.oag.state.md.us/Press/2015/032615.html

Baltimore, MD (March 25, 2015) - Attorney General Brian E. Frosh announced today that Lindsey A. Johnson, 30, of Baltimore, was convicted in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City on charges related to deceitfully conducting lead paint inspections without proper certification. 

Johnson was sentenced to two years in jail, all of which was suspended, ordered to pay a $30,000 fine with all but $5,000 suspended, and is required to complete 800 hours of community service at the Baltimore Office of the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative. She was also placed on three years' supervised probation and ordered to pay $1,200 in restitution.

"Lead poisoning can cause serious health problems or even death, so we won't stand idly by when people try to skirt the law," said Attorney General Frosh. "Marylanders should feel safe in their homes and not have to worry about this invisible killer."

Johnson was convicted on charges of illegally falsifying and submitting falsified Lead Paint Risk Reduction Certificates and unfair or deceptive trade practices. The $5,000 fine is to be paid to the Lead Poisoning Prevention Fund.

Maryland law requires rental properties to be lead-inspected by an accredited lead paint inspector when there is a change of tenant or when a child living in the residence is diagnosed with an elevated blood level, among other circumstances.

All work must be performed by individuals or companies who have been trained and/or accredited by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). Upon certification, MDE provides inspectors with blank Lead Paint Risk Reduction Certificates that have unique numbers specifically assigned to the accredited lead paint inspection contractor. MDE maintains a list of the certificates they issue and also tracks the use of the certificates and records their use and submission back to MDE.

Johnson had previously been certified as a supervisor of maintenance and repainting and also as a lead paint inspection contractor and lead paint visual inspector. However, as of August 2012, these certifications had all expired and were never renewed. Additionally, LJ Services LLC, Johnson's now-forfeited business, was never accredited by MDE as a lead inspection contractor. 

MDE was informed of the fabricated certificates by the former Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning (now known as the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative) and the Office of the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division. Investigation by the Environmental Crimes Unit of the Office of the Attorney General revealed that Johnson falsified Lead Paint Risk Reduction Certificates on four properties in Baltimore. Property owners paid Johnson to conduct lead paint inspections and to provide the required Lead Risk Reduction Certificates, but she was instead generating falsified certificates and not performing the lead inspections as required. These phony documents contained certificate numbers that had been assigned by MDE to other inspection companies and had been issued for other properties and properly recorded with MDE. 

Johnson continued to provide lead paint inspection contractor and visual inspector services well after her certification expired in August 2012. In April 2014, she was hired and partially paid to conduct lead inspections at two additional properties located in East Baltimore, and presented to the property owner that she would be submitting samples to the lab and would provide the results as well as the Lead Risk Reduction Certificates. Her services were terminated by the property owner upon learning through MDE that she was no longer certified to provide the services that she had been paid to do.

Attorney General Frosh thanked Assistant Attorney General D'Arcy Talley, Environmental Crimes Unit Chief Investigator David Williams and MDE's Lead Poisoning Prevention Program for their assistance in the case.