Contractor sentenced to jail for fraud in project involving historic Steamtown car

July 9 – A Wyoming businessman whose company failed to restore a nearly 100-year-old passenger car for the Steamtown National Historic Site for $861,000 as required by his contract, will spend 2 years and half in jail.

A federal judge in Cheyenne, Wyoming, sentenced John Eldon Rimmasch to 30 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for his April 13 conviction on wire fraud and other charges, according to online court records.

U.S. District Court Judge Alan B. Johnson also ordered Rimmasch and his company, Cheyenne-based Wasatch Railroad Contractors, to pay restitution of $7,424.64 and forfeit assets in the amount of $861. $007 at the sentencing hearing this week.

In 2016, the National Park Service awarded Wasatch an $828,871 contract to restore and remove asbestos from a 1923 passenger car in the Steamtown Collection – Central Railroad of New Jersey Suburban Coach 1021 – that the historic site planned to use for excursions. A change in the contract then increased its value to $861,007.

However, federal authorities said the company never completed the work and put its employees at risk by exposing them to asbestos.

According to investigators, Wasatch acknowledged as part of its contract that it was not certified to perform asbestos removal on CNJ 1021 and would instead use a third-party contractor.

In an indictment tendered in November, a federal grand jury alleged that Rimmasch, founder and CEO of Wasatch, never intended to meet contract requirements and authorized company employees to withdraw asbestos from the car without proper safety measures.

He and his company were specifically accused of submitting invoices totaling nearly $40,000 for asbestos removal to the park department for payment when they knew the work had not been performed according to contract.

After an eight-day trial, a jury found Rimmasch and Wasatch guilty of five counts of wire fraud in connection with the false invoices and one count of knowingly releasing asbestos and imminently endangering death or serious injury. for company employees.

Steamtown Superintendent Cherie Shepherd said Friday the historic site will now begin working with its attorneys and the Department of Justice to bring CNJ 1021 back to Scranton. She acknowledged that it could take time.

The passenger car is in pieces in Wyoming and Steamtown officials will need to travel there to inventory the components before they are shipped back, she said. Also, there may still be asbestos on some of the parts that will require professional mitigation.

Once the car is returned, Shepherd said, Steamtown will assess the work done and what remains to be done before hiring another contractor to complete the restoration.

Johnson ordered Rimmasch to surrender no later than September 6 to begin serving his sentence.

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