Former Town of Cary Employee Pleads Guilty to Falsifying Drinking Water Sampling Results
WILMINGTON – The United States Attorney’s Office announced that today in federal court, CHRISTOPHER DALE MILLER, 41, of Cary, North Carolina, waived indictment and pleaded guilty to making material false statements in connection with sampling required under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
According to the Criminal Information and information in the public record, MILLER was employed by the Town of Cary as a state certified distribution technician. MILLER was responsible for, among other things, collecting water samples for testing from the drinking water system and testing for residual chlorine in the field. MILLER was further responsible for collecting samples from various locations; packaging and placing the samples in a cooler; and delivering them to the Town of Cary’s lab where they were tested for total coliform and bacteria. MILLER, however, failed to do so. The investigation revealed that MILLER made false statements by certifying to the Town of Cary that he obtained water samples from the required locations when, in reality, he only took samples from a few locations. The certified sample locations were submitted along with the lab results to North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (“NCDEQ”) (formerly known as the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources). The samples and associated documentation are required as part of the NC DENR’s drinking water monitoring program. By sending falsified samples and documents to NC DENR, MILLER inhibited NC DENR from carrying out its mission to protect public water supplies and thereby public health.
Between August 27, 2014 and December 2014, MILLER falsified documentation for at least 278 samples.
The Town of Cary discovered the falsified sampling in late December 2014 and conducted an internal investigation. MILLER initially lied to his supervisors, and then later, admitted to collecting multiple samples from the same site and falsifying chain of custody documents. MILLER knew that his conduct impacted 225,000 consumers of the public water system.
The Town of Cary terminated MILLER, promptly reported the matter to state officials, and fully cooperated in the federal investigation.
MILLER is scheduled to be sentenced on December 12, 2016.
Investigation of this case was conducted by the United States Environment Protection Agency – Criminal Investigation Division and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation – Drug Diversion and Environmental Crimes Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Banumathi Rangarajan handled the prosecution on behalf to the Eastern District of North Carolina with the assistance of EPA Region IV – Regional Criminal Enforcement Counsel/Special Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer M. Lewis.