published Friday, November 8th, 2013

Indicted Tennessee meth home cleaner weighs plea agreement

JACKSON, Tenn. — A Tennessee contractor charged with illegally certifying that homes where methamphetamine was produced were livable again is considering whether to go to trial or accept a plea agreement, his lawyer said Friday.

Douglas Earl McCasland made a brief appearance in federal court in Jackson on Friday. He was indicted in July on charges of mail fraud and making false statements regarding the proper remediation of houses where meth had been made.

McCasland's lawyer, William J. Morrow, told U.S. District Judge J. Daniel Breen that a plea agreement has been discussed with the government. Morrow said his client needs more time to make a decision.

Breen set a Dec. 5 hearing for McCasland to inform him.

Under state law, all harmful meth residues must be removed from a house before people can live in it again. Contaminated homes are placed on a state quarantine list until they are properly cleaned and certified for re-habitation. More than 1,000 homes are currently on the list.

Tennessee's Department of Environment and Conservation certifies contractors who are hired by property owners to clean up meth homes. It also certifies industrial hygienists who test properties for harmful residue after they are cleaned and clear them for habitation with a certificate. McCasland was certified by the state as a methamphetamine remediation contractor, but not as a hygienist.

The indictment said McCasland solicited the business of property owners, promising to clean the homes of meth residue for about half the cost of other remediation companies. McCasland failed to properly clean the homes, then illegally cleared them for re-habitation even though they still contained harmful residue, the indictment said.

McCasland mailed documents to officials to release 27 properties from quarantine, according to the indictment, which lists nine properties in Carroll, Coffee, Dyer, Hardin, Humphreys and Shelby counties. McCasland is alleged to have made $100,000 on the scheme.

Along with the federal charges, McCasland also faces state charges in Hardin and other counties, Morrow said.

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