Second former lab manager pleads guilty to tampering with water samples
BECKLEY, W.Va. – A former lab manager from Raleigh County who falsified data pleaded guilty today to a violation of the Clean Water Act, announced United States Attorney Carol Casto. John Brewer, 62, of Beaver, is the second former employee of Appalachian Laboratories to be prosecuted for a federal crime involving the Clean Water Act.
Appalachian Laboratories performed water sampling and analysis for coal mining operations to ensure that the discharges of pollutants into public waterways were within the limits of permits issued by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. From at least 2008 through the summer of 2013, law enforcement found evidence of irregularities in the sampling. Brewer admitted that he knew and approved of employees falsifying the date that water samples were taken, as well as falsifying dates himself. Brewer further admitted that Appalachian Laboratories employees would falsify the date a sample was taken in order to avoid collecting samples that they believed to be in violation of permit limits. Instead, the employees would wait until they believed the water was within permit limits and then take a sample. They then backdated the samples to make it appear as though the samples had been collected in the previous month as required. Brewer additionally admitted that he caused this falsified data to be submitted in a report to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
Brewer faces up to two years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000 when he is sentenced on January 18, 2017. John Shelton, another former lab manager at Appalachian Laboratories, previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the Clean Water Act. Shelton was sentenced in February 2015 to a year and nine months in federal prison.
The investigation was conducted jointly by the FBI and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division. Assistant United States Attorney Eric Bacaj and Special Assistant United States Attorney Perry McDaniel are in charge of the prosecution. The plea hearing was held before United States District Judge Irene C. Berger.
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