McDowell County woman sentence in federal court for filing fraudulent water quality reports
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – United States Attorney Booth Goodwin announced that Bonita Witt-Hird, 60, of Thorpe (McDowell County), West Virginia, was sentenced today to one year and one day in federal prison for filing fraudulent water quality reports.
Witt-Hird was formerly employed as the office manager for Richmorr Associates, Inc., an environmental engineering firm in Elkview, West Virginia. Richmorr provides water sampling services to wastewater treatment plants throughout West Virginia. Wastewater plants are required by state and federal law to sample wastewater discharges. The results are submitted to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP). WVDEP reviews the results to ensure compliance with water quality standards. In the event of non-compliance, WVDEP may levy fines or, in extreme cases, shut down the wastewater treatment plant.
In November of 2015, Witt-Hird pleaded guilty admitting that from April of 2012 to June of 2013, she filed approximately 80 false reports with the WVDEP. The false reports made it appear that current water quality sampling had been performed for the wastewater plants when, in fact, the test results had been copied from previous years.
Witt-Hird previously plead guilty in September of 2013 to obstructing an IRS investigation and served a one year sentence imposed for that offense.
The wastewater investigation was conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division, the WVDEP and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Erik S. Goes was responsible for the prosecution.