immediate release --February 15, 1999.
Contact Bob Brammer, 515-281-6699
Water Treatment Plant Officials Plead
Guilty to Falsification of Records
Harry Smith and Bert Jester appeared in Jefferson County District Court
today and entered guilty pleas to charges of Felonious Misconduct in Office,
a Class D Felony.
At sentencing following
the guilty pleas, District Court Judge Dan Morrison deferred judgment,
placing both defendants on probation for three years. The conditions of
probation include an order that Smith and Jester each make a charitable
contribution of $1,000 or perform community service or charitable work
in Jefferson County equivalent to $1,000 at the rate of $6 per hour. A
deferred judgment can result in the felony charges being erased from the
defendants' criminal record after successful completion of probation.
The charges were based
on allegations of falsification of records at the Fairfield water treatment
plant during 1997 and 1998. Harry Smith worked as the treatment plant
manager, and Bert Jester was assistant manager.
In response to a complaint
alleging that monitoring records were being falsified, the Iowa Department
of Natural Resources investigated Fairfield water treatment plant records
and did an on-site inspection and interviews in September 1998. The investigation
confirmed that monthly operating reports did not accurately represent
actual turbidity data taken from the plant's recording equipment. In many
cases, it was apparent that actual values were being adjusted to appear
to fall below DNR standards for turbidity. (Turbidity relates to clearness
of the water and is an indicator of material contained in the water requiring
was conducted by the Iowa DCI, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
and the Iowa Attorney General's Office. The investigation determined that
Jester and Smith knew that false entries were made in water treatment
plant records. The Attorney General's Office filed criminal complaints
naming Smith and Jester on October 2, 1998. The DNR stated at the time
that Fairfield's water is considered safe.
District Court Judge
Morrison accepted the guilty pleas today at the Jefferson County Court
House in Fairfield. The maximum penalty for a Class D Felony is five years
in prison and a $7500 fine. The Court previously had ordered a presentence
After the Court accepted
the guilty pleas, the State recommended suspended sentences of incarceration,
probation, and fines of $1000 for each Defendant. The defendants requested
deferral of judgment and probation.
The State does not
intend to pursue additional criminal or civil penalties related to the
falsification of records, other than license revocations by the Department
of Natural Resources. On October 1, the Iowa DNR issued an order suspending
the water treatment plant operator certifications for Smith and Jester
and commenced action for revocation of certifications. Smith and Jester
also were suspended from their positions at that time; they were terminated
from their positions on January 31.
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