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United Water acquitted of all charges

Updated: December 11, 2012 6:06AM



United Water Services has said ever since it was charged two years ago with tampering with water samples at the Gary Sanitation District that it was simply following normal practises.

Friday, a federal jury agreed and acquitted the company and two of its employees of 23 criminal counts.

The jury returned the verdict after about seven hours of deliberation, Richard Henning, spokesman for United Water, said.

“We always believed that these allegations were unfounded, and we were confident that all parties would be exonerated when the jury heard all the facts,” Bertrand Camus, CEO of United Water, said in a release.

The government charged the company and employees Dwain Bowie and Gregory Ciaccio with conspiring to tamper with daily samples taken to test for E. coli levels in the water at the GSD treatment plant. The indictment claimed that United Water, which operated GSD for about a decade, would raise chlorine, which is used to kill E. coli, just before the samples were taken and then lower it just after to levels not high enough to properly kill of the bacteria.

United Water never denied it raised and lowered the chlorine levels but argued to a federal jury at the U.S. District Court in Hammond that it was done because the flow of water changed throughout the day as people would use more of it in the morning than throughout the rest of the day. The government claimed this happened from 2003 to 2010, the same year GSD ended its contract with United Water.

“It was clear in this case that we complied with the scope of our contract with the Gary Sanitary District and met environmental standards — facts that were never called into question,” Camus said in the release.

The trial was expected to last three weeks but wrapped up Thursday after about a week and a half of testimony.



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