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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Missouri

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Clean Water Act Violation

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Taney County, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to submitting false water samples for testing from a wastewater treatment facility that dumped raw, untreated sewage into Table Rock Lake for much of 2008.

Bruce Raymond Morris, 63, of Taney County, waived his right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to a federal information that charges him with making false statements in violation of the Clean Water Act.

Morris was employed by Light Environmental, Inc., which provides environmental and waste treatment services. Landmarc Estates, a Taney County subdivision, hired Light Environmental to operate its wastewater treatment facility, to conduct wastewater sampling at the facility, and to submit wastewater sample results to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources as required by its federal permit. Morris was responsible for operating the wastewater treatment facility serving Landmarc Estates from March 2008 to January 2009.

The Landmarc Estates wastewater treatment facility was located less than 100 yards from Table Rock Lake. It discharged into a roadside ditch, and from there the discharged materials flowed downhill into Table Rock Lake. From March 2008 to January 2009, the Landmarc Estates facility did not properly treat its wastewater. Its electrically-operated motor, providing the only source of operating power for the facility, was inoperable for this entire period. As a result, raw, untreated sewage was released into the roadside ditch, and that untreated sewage flowed directly into Table Rock Lake.

Morris knew the Landmarc Estates facility did not properly treat its wastewater, and was in violation of its permit. As operator of the facility, Morris was responsible for its upkeep and repair; however, Morris did not repair the facility. Knowing that wastewater samples taken from the facility would not pass state tests, Morris substituted test samples from another wastewater treatment facility. Morris submitted those substituted test samples for biochemical analysis, falsely certified on the quarterly Wastewater Discharge Monitoring Reports that the test samples and laboratory test results were for the Landmarc Estates facility, and caused those false reports to be submitted to the state.

According to today’s plea agreement, a state inspector found at least 10 violations by the wastewater treatment facility, the most egregious of which was that raw, untreated sewage was released directly into the environment.

Under federal statutes, Morris is subject to a sentence of up to two years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Mohlhenrich. It was investigated by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and EPA Criminal Investigation Division.

Updated January 7, 2015