The former public works director for the city of Harlem was sentenced Tuesday to 12 months and one day in federal prison for violations of the federal Clean Water Act.
Daniel Cason, 66, was indicted in September 2008 on 11 counts of violating the Clean Water Act. In April, he pleaded guilty to three counts of making false statements on water quality reports in 2004 and 2005.
By pleading guilty, Cason admitted he was responsible for the use of a portable pump to transfer water out of a retention pond and into a nearby tributary of Uchee Creek in January 2004.
More than three-dozen people attended the sentencing at Augusta's federal court building in support of Cason, including Harlem Mayor Bobby Culpepper.
In an e-mailed statement responding to the sentence, Culpepper wrote, "We're saddened by it very much. But the message I would have to say as the present mayor is that since that time, the previous mayor and city council have spent millions of dollars on the (sewer) system in Harlem. And it is a model system that other engineering firms have brought their clients to see.
"The message for the city of Harlem," Culpepper added, is that "the city has attempted always to do the right thing. And they were in the process of doing that at the time all this occurred."
Under Cason's plea agreement, seven other charges of filing false reports were dropped, as was the charge of discharging a pollutant into a tributary of Uchee Creek.
During sentencing, Cason and other workers said they assumed the water was not a hazard because waste water was no longer stored in the pond, and that the water came from rain or groundwater. The pond was pumped to make way for a new clay liner.
Cason faced a sentence of 18 to 24 months under federal guidelines, but U.S. District Court Judge J. Randall Hall determined he was entitled to a lesser sentence.
Hall also fined Cason $3,000 and ordered him to perform 100 hours of community service while on probation for one year following his release.
Cason, who ran the Harlem public works department until May, is free on bond. He is scheduled to report to federal prison at 2 p.m. Jan. 18.
Augusta Chronicle staff writer Sandy Hodson contributed to this report.
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