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Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh’s office announced Monday the filing of criminal charges against the person responsible for the demolition of the historic St. Vincent Infant Asylum buildings in 2018 — which they allege was not only illegal but also hazardous in nature.

The office charged William Anthony Culler II, of the Culler Group, with unlawfully demolishing the West Baltimore properties. The buildings, demolished almost exactly two years ago, came down without sufficient notice and without airborne asbestos prevention, the office alleges, which endangered those in the neighborhood.

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“We allege Culler illegally demolished these buildings without proper notice and authorization, and without the required safeguards in place,” Frosh said in a statement. "Asbetos is an extremely hazardous substance and can become airborne during demolition, endangering the health of workers and the surrounding community, including children.”

Culler is charged with eight counts, including failing to obtain the proper demolition permits and approval from the Maryland Department of the Environment; failure to inspect for the presence of asbestos and failure to notice the department of the intent to engage in an asbestos project. Each charge is punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $25,000, according to the announcement.

Culler declined to comment when reached Monday afternoon.

The buildings, built between 1860 and the 1910s, once provided housing and medical services to children and women in need. They also served as housing units for Catholic nuns who tended to its other occupants. In the early 1940s, the structure was converted into affordable housing units meant primarily for African American tenants but closed in 2013 due to disrepair.

A massive three-alarm fire worsened its condition when it swept through the building in 2015, requiring more than 100 firefighters to extinguish and leaving parts of it little more than the exterior shell.

After the February 2018 demolition, a Maryland Department of the Environment inspector collected several samples of demolition debris to test for asbestos contamination. Analysis of those samples by the Department of Health’s Air Quality Laboratory and analysis confirmed the presence of the substance, according to the attorney general’s office.

Last July, Frosh also filed a civil complaint against Culler for “willfully violating Maryland’s environmental and asbestos control laws and regulations.”

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