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California Briefing / LOS ANGELES

Man pleads guilty in mold case

August 26, 2008|From the Associated Press

A man hired to help clean up mold at a Ventura County hospital pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to threatening to publicize the mold problem if he was not paid $500,000.

Andrew Burroughs, 30, faces two years in prison for sending a threatening e-mail in 2005 to the parent company of St. John's Regional Medical Center in Oxnard.

The 265-bed hospital had struggled with mold because of a construction problem that allowed water into the walls, and Burroughs' work was part of a number of efforts to clean up the mold over six years. In 2007, St. John's was closed for 10 days and underwent a $24-million fumigation.

Suanne Buggy, a spokeswoman for the state health department, said her agency is not aware of any mold problems at the hospital since last year.

A call seeking comment from the hospital was not immediately returned Monday afternoon.

Kim Savo, Burroughs' attorney, said the case involved a disgruntled employee and should not have been brought to federal court.

Burroughs is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 3.

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