Former Dolton Certified Water Operator Charged With Falsifying Drinking Water Sampling Data
Chicago — A former Dolton certified water operator was indicted yesterday on charges that, for several years, he routinely falsified paperwork to make it appear that Dolton was properly sampling its drinking water for microbiological contaminants. Dolton purchases its drinking water from the City of Chicago, which treats Lake Michigan water. However, Dolton is still required to test its drinking water for the presence of coliform bacteria in order to ensure that it has not become contaminated locally.
According to the six count indictment, between January 2008 and continuing through August 2013, Philip Kraus, 63, of Thornton, falsified records in order to conceal the fact that he was not sampling Dolton’s water system in accordance with the Safe Drinking Water Act and the U.S. EPA regulations that implement the Safe Drinking Water Act. Kraus will appear before for an arraignment at a later date determined by U.S. District Court.
Each month, Dolton was required to collect 25-30 samples of its drinking water from various points representative of the entire drinking water distribution system and thereafter to take those samples to a certified laboratory for testing. The samples were to be tested for the presence or absence of coliform bacteria – the presence of coliform bacteria in the drinking water may indicate that the drinking water is contaminated with microbiological contaminants. The indictment alleges that, contrary to the required sampling protocol, Kraus routinely collected multiple drinking water samples each month from only one or a few locations but falsely represented on Dolton paperwork and on forms submitted to Dolton’s contract laboratory that the samples were taken from representative locations throughout Dolton. The laboratory then transmitted the test results and the false sample site data to the Illinois EPA, which implements the federal Safe Drinking Water Act in Illinois pursuant to authorization from U.S. EPA. IEPA and U.S. EPA rely upon the test results and sample site data to ensure that Dolton was distributing to its residents and businesses drinking water free of microbiological contaminants. The contract laboratory is not accused of any wrongdoing.
The indictment charges Kraus with one count of engaging in a multi-year scheme between January 2008 and August 2013 to submit material false statements and five additional counts, each of which charges Kraus with causing the submission of a false statement to IEPA on a particular date in 2013.
The indictment alleges that all of the test results from the samples submitted to the contract laboratory were negative for the presence of coliform bacteria. The government does not possess information indicating that any person was harmed as a result of the alleged offenses.
The charges were announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Randall K. Ashe, Special Agent-in-Charge of the U.S. EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago.
"The residents of the Village of Dolton relied upon Mr. Kraus, the Village’s Certified Water Operator, to make sure that their drinking water was properly sampled and tested for microbiological contamination." said Mr. Fardon. "Mr. Kraus violated the trust of the residents of Dolton, and, although we have no evidence that Mr. Kraus’ conduct caused any actual harm, it did create a very real risk of contamination going undiscovered."
Each of the six counts carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The government is being represented by Assistant United States Attorney Timothy J. Chapman.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.