Clarks Summit Man Pleads Guilty To Violations Of Clean Water Act And Tampering With Government Witness
SCRANTON - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that David D. Klepadlo, age 63, of Clarks Summit, and the company he owns, David D. Klepadlo & Associates, Inc., pleaded guilty on December 19, 2018, before United States District Court Judge A. Richard Caputo to making false statements in violation of the Clean Water Act and tampering with a government witness.
According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, Klepadlo was certified by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a waste water treatment plant operator. Klepadlo and his company contracted with local municipalities to operate and manage the municipalities’ waste water treatment plants in accordance with regulations and limitations in permits issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) and the U.S. Environmental Protections Agency (EPA).
The permits required that the permittee at all times maintain in good working order, and properly operate all facilities and systems installed and used to achieve compliance with the terms and conditions of the permits. For approximately two years, beginning in May 2012 and continuing through June 2014, Klepadlo and his company failed to properly operate and maintain the facilities (Greenfield Township Sewer Authority, Lackawanna County, and the Benton/Nicholson Sewer Authority, both Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties) and systems of treatment and control, in accordance with terms and conditions of the permits.
Klepadlo knowingly failed to take daily and weekly samples and measurements required for the purpose of monitoring pollutants discharged into waterways of the United States; knowingly created false test results and falsely reported those results in discharge monitoring reports submitted monthly to the PADEP and the EPA.
Klepadlo also admitted to attempting to persuade a government witness to fabricate a false explanation for the Clean Water Act violations for the purpose of influencing testimony of a witness in an official proceeding involving the testing and registering requirements of the permits.
Waste water from the Greenfield publicly-owned treatment plan is discharged into a tributary of Dundaff Creek, which flows into Tunkhannock Creek, which flows into the Susquehanna River. Waste water from the Benton/Nicholson facility flows into a tributary of South Branch Tunkhannock Creek, which also flows into the Susquehanna River.
“For personal profit, the Defendant in this case violated the Clean Water Act and tampered with a government witness,” said U.S. Attorney Freed. “His failure to complete appropriate and necessary testing violated the trust of our citizens who depend upon public entities to ensure clean, safe drinking water. The one constant uniting the diverse communities of the Middle District of Pennsylvania is the Susquehanna River, providing us with an abundant natural resource as well as commercial and recreational opportunities. Working with our partners at EPA Criminal Enforcement, the FBI and the Pennsylvania DEP we are committed to protecting this important asset and ferreting out violations of the Act.”
“The defendant not only violated the Clean Water Act by failing to properly operate a waste water treatment facility, but also created false test results to mislead state and federal officials,” said Special Agent in Charge Jennifer Lynn of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Pennsylvania. “He then attempted to persuade a government witness to fabricate a false explanation of the violations. EPA and its law enforcement partners are committed to the protection of public health and will continue to pursue those who undermine those efforts.”
“At every turn, it seems, David Klepadlo opted to cut corners and tell lies,” said Michael T. Harpster, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Philadelphia Division. “After tampering with his water samples, he sought to do the same with a government witness. The FBI will continue to work with our state and federal partners to investigate and stamp out such corruption.”
The charges stem from an investigation jointly conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Assistant United States Attorney Michelle Olshefski is prosecuting the case.
A sentence following a finding of guilty is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
In this case, the maximum penalty for the Clean Water Act violation is punishable by up to 2 years’ imprisonment and a sliding scale for fines of $5,000 to $25,000 per violation, per day. The maximum penalty under the tampering with a witness statute is 20 years’ imprisonment, and a $250,000 fine. Each crime also carries a term of supervised release following imprisonment. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.
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