Harlem Public Works Director Daniel Webster Cason pled guilty last week to three counts of making false statements relating to bogus water quality reports filed in 2004 and 2005.
Cason, 65, was indicted in September on 11 counts alleging violations of the federal Clean Water Act.
An investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that in January 2004, Cason used a portable pump to transfer wastewater from an oxidation pond at the plant into a nearby tributary of Euchee Creek, in violation of the Clean Water Act. He later falsified reports that included erroneous measurements of fecal coliform and oxygen-demanding materials.
Special Agent Chuck Carfagno of the EPA testified in U.S. District Court on Tuesday that "at least half a dozen" witnesses saw the wastewater being pumped into the creek; and that employee records indicated Cason was not at work when the water quality reports were supposedly completed.
The guilty plea before Judge J. Randal Hall involved three counts of making false statements related to specific water quality reports filed Jan. 19-Feb. 3, 2004; May 17-June 4, 2004; and March 22-April 4, 2005.
Under the plea, seven other charges of filing false reports were dropped, as was the charge of discharging a pollutant into a tributary of Euchee Creek.
The three charges to which Cason pleaded guilty each carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled later, after a pre-sentencing report is prepared.
Cason remains on paid leave from the city of Harlem pending action from City Council, City Manager Jean Dove said.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.