Judge refuses to dismiss United Water indictment
By Christin Nance Lazerus firstname.lastname@example.org August 24, 2011 9:36PM
Updated: November 4, 2011 9:45AM
U.S. District Court Judge Rudy Lozano refused to dismiss an indictment Wednesday that accuses two former United Water Services employees of tampering with water samples at the Gary Sanitary District.
In July, attorneys for defendants Gregory Ciaccio, Dwain Bowie and United Water filed a motion arguing that the indictment does not detail any illegal activity. The GSD was operated by United Water from 1998 to 2010.
The three were charged with allegedly raising chlorine levels prior to taking daily water samples, then lowering it afterward to levels not strong enough to kill E. coli bacteria.
In his denial of the defendants’ motion to dismiss, Lozano called the arguments unpersuasive, saying the Clean Water Act does not require emitting pollutants over the limit or that tampering leads to unrepresentative samples.
“Rather, it appears from the plain language of the CWA’s tampering provision that Congress intended to prevent tampering even in the absence of any other violation,” Lozano wrote.
The opinion did state that temporarily increasing the concentration of chlorine before taking compliance samples and reducing it shortly thereafter does not always amount to tampering in violation of the law. But Lozano wrote that the court believes that it can in some circumstances.
Lozano ruled that the indictment is not legally deficient and he wrote that if there were questions regarding whether the specific conduct violated the tampering provision, then those questions are for the jury to decide.