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September 27, 2011

Department of Justice

United States Attorney William C. Killian Eastern District of Tennessee


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.-- Donald Clark, of Niota, Tenn., entered12 pleas of guilty today pursuant to an indictment returned by a federal grand jury charging him with 72 counts of making false documents in connection with the operation of the City of Niota, Tennessee's sewage treatment plant. Clark entered his guilty pleas before U.S. Magistrate Judge William Carter. Sentencing was set for January 9, 2012, at 9:00 a.m. .

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) issued a permit to the City of Niota to discharge treated waste water from the city's sewage treatment plant to Little North Mouse Creek, a tributary of the Hiwassee River. The permit was issued under TDEC's delegated authority to administer the federal Clean Water Act's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program in the State of Tennessee. The permit requires, among other things, that the waste water be treated with chlorine in order to disinfect the waste water prior to discharge.

Clark acknowledged through his guilty pleas that he created a total of 12 false Discharge Monitoring Reports from January 2008 through December 2010, in which he misrepresented that the waste water had been treated with chlorine and tested for residual chlorine concentration prior to discharge, as required under the permit. Clark faces a maximum punishment for each of the counts of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a maximum term of supervised release of three years.

The indictment is the result of a joint investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - Criminal Investigation Division and EPA’s Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew T. Morris is representing the United States.

U.S. Attorney Bill Killian underscored the importance of the aggressive enforcement of environmental laws, stating “This prosecution demonstrates the EPA’s and the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s commitment to investigate and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law persons who submit false reports that undermine the integrity of the regulatory programs that protect the environment and human health.”

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