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Federal charges allege asbestos release near Sports Authority Field at Mile High

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DENVER — Federal prosecutors have filed criminal charges against a Denver apartment complex for releasing asbestos into the air.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office claims the release near Sports Authority Field at Mile High placed people in imminent danger of death.

Charging documents filed in federal court Wednesday allege the owner of the Overlook at Mile High apartment complex (3190 W. 14th Ave.) released asbestos into the air from January to February 2014.

During that time, thousands packed Sports Authority Field at Mile High for two Broncos playoff games.

The owner of the complex, John Tom Williams, is accused of exposing people to potential scarring of the lungs and a cancer called mesothelioma.

“I just saw a big container out there that said asbestos,” apartment tenant Nicole Browning said.

During a 2014 renovation project, the Overlook at Mile High released asbestos from two towers of its complex into open air, according to charging documents.

Williams and his company, Willmax Capital Management, face two counts that could mean a year in prison for Williams and a $100,000 fine. The Dallas-based company could be forced to pay more than $500,000 in fines.

Browning said, while she knew there was an asbestos issue, property managers never told her just how serious the problem was.

“I had no idea,” she said. “It’s kind of crazy.”

Employees at the property’s leasing office said they have only been working at the complex for a few months and claimed they knew nothing about the asbestos.

Williams’ attorney said his client has agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge and has spent nearly $1 million to fix asbestos issues.

Williams has also agreed to pay for medical bills to monitor the health of tenants and workers, according to the attorney.

“That’s good that they’re doing it,” Browning said. “It’s good that they’re willing to take that step.”

Williams’ attorney believes the release would not have affected those at the stadium for the playoff games. There have yet to be any reports of illness connected to the alleged asbestos release.