- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 29, 2005

A former D.C. Department of Health inspector has been sentenced to nearly three years in federal prison after accepting bribes to relax standards for asbestos removal at a city dump.

The air quality and asbestos inspector, Jeffrey Dewhite Edwards, 43, of Bristow, Va., was convicted on bribery and extortion charges in U.S. District Court last year. He was sentenced Tuesday to 33 months in prison.

Prosecutors said Edwards demanded $10,000 from a consultant for a company that had been hired by the District to demolish incinerators at the Benning Road solid-waste transfer facility in Northeast.

In exchange, Edwards would allow the company, Keystone Plus Construction, to permit asbestos removal from the dump under less stringent standards.

Investigators said the consultant for Keystone contacted law enforcement authorities after Edwards demanded the bribe. Authorities arrested Edwards in 2003.

Edwards’ attorney, A.J. Kramer, had sought a sentence of supervised probation.

According to a memo from the defense attorney, Edwards has lost his job, career and home and has had family troubles as a result of his conviction.

“His bribe took the form of an illegitimate private payment in exchange for doing his job and approving an asbestos-abatement plan that was, in fact, compliant with District of Columbia law,” the defense memo states.

Since his conviction, Edwards has “shown that he is a remorseful, respectful and hardworking man with much to offer his family and community,” the defense attorney said.

Prosecutors had sought a 46-month sentence for Edwards, saying in documents filed last week that he “engaged in a brazen display of his power over a public health matter.”

Jim McElhatton

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