Man Pleads Guilty to Falsifying Water Testing in Branchville
Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Beth Drake stated today that Caleb Elias Hartzog, Jr., age 59, of Orangeburg, pled guilty to Making a False Statement to a Government Agency, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, § 1001. Chief Judge Terry L. Wooten accepted the plea and will sentence Hartzog on September 11, 2018.
Evidence presented at the hearing established that Caleb Hartzog, a former drinking water operator for the town of Branchville, South Carolina, forged forms certifying that residents had collected drinking water samples from within their homes. Hartzog falsified forms for at least ten residential homes. Several residents claimed no one had been taking water samples from their homes for some time, and, in certain cases, ever. The samples were to be analyzed for potential lead and copper contamination. None of the ten residents had signed the forms in 2014, the year that is the basis for the criminal charges.
Testing performed after Hartzog was no longer the drinking water operator revealed no contamination of the Branchville water supply.
The maximum penalty faced by Hartzog is imprisonment for five years, with a potential fine up to $250,000.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) investigated the case. Assistant United States Attorney Winston David Holliday, Jr., of the Columbia office is prosecuting the case.