By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The owner of a Cheyenne company that restores old railroad equipment was recently convicted on multiple counts of wire fraud and for intentionally exposing his employees to asbestos.
A federal grand jury found John Eldon Rimmasch, as well as his company Wasatch Railroad Contractors, guilty of five counts of wire fraud and one count of knowing endangerment earlier this month.
Rimmasch will be sentenced in July and faces a maximum penalty of 95 years in prison and $1.2 million in fines. Wasatch, which has filed for bankruptcy, faces $2 million in fines. Rimmasch is out on bond until his sentencing.
According to an indictment handed down in November, Wasatch submitted a bid in June 2016 to the National Park Service to restore railcar CNJ 1021, a steel vestibule passenger car built in 1923.
When NPS placed a call for bids, contractors were made aware that the railcar contained asbestos, which can cause cancer.
The NPS intended to use the railcar for passenger excursions at Steamtown National Historic Site in Pennsylvania.
Wasatch was chosen as the company to restore the railcar and its contract with the Park Service showed that the company was required to implement certain safety measures to prevent workers from being exposed to asbestos.
The indictment accused Rimmasch and Wasatch of billing the Park Service almost $39,000 for asbestos abatement and removal at the restoration project, conducted in Shoshoni, even though the work was not done.
“As part of the scheme, Rimmasch induced the National Park Service to enter the aforementioned contract with Wasatch by representing Wasatch would restore (the railcar) in accordance with the requirements … when in fact, Rimmasch did not intend for Wasatch to abide by all the requirements …” the indictment said.
Rimmash was also accused of failing to pay employees while working on the restoration, a project which was never completed.