Washington, D.C., April 29, 2009 -- Christopher Neil Gauntt, the former supervisor of the Fort Gibson Water Treatment Plant in Fort Gibson, Okla., has pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Muskogee, Okla., to falsifying a monthly operating report that certified the safety of drinking water from the facility, the Justice Department announced.
Gauntt pleaded guilty to a one-count information charging him with a felony count of making a false statement. He admitted that on or about June 12, 2008, he submitted a monthly operating report containing false data for drinking water that is provided to customers.
As a result of the felony conviction, Gauntt could be sentenced up to five years in prison and fined up to $250,000.
Under the federal Safe Water Drinking Act, the Fort Gibson water treatment plant must provide drinking water that meets standards to ensure that the water is safe for human consumption. Two of the standards that must be met include turbidity and chlorine.
Gauntt admitted that he recorded levels in the monthly operating report submitted to Oklahoma DEQ that indicated the turbidity and chlorine levels were in compliance with required standards when he knew in fact they were not. There were no reports of ill effects from the drinking water during the time period in question.
"All citizens should be confident that they are receiving drinking water that is safe for consumption. Those who knowingly compromise the regulatory protections of the Safe Drinking Water Act will be prosecuted," said John C. Cruden, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "The prosecution in this case demonstrates that the government vigorously acts to ensure all of our citizens have good drinking water and the Safe Drinking Water Act's requirements are being complied with."
The case was prosecuted by the Department of Justice Environmental Crimes Section and was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation and the Oklahoma Attorney General's Office.