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Laboratory Operator Sentenced to 40 Months for Fabricating Industrial Wastewater Results

Laboratory Operator Sentenced to 40 Months for Fabricating Industrial Wastewater Results

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Tennie White, the owner and operator of an environmental laboratory located in Jackson, Miss., was sentenced in federal court late yesterday to 40 months in prison in connection with her conviction for faking laboratory testing results and lying to federal investigators, announced Gregory K. Davis, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, and Robert G. Dreher, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

White also was sentenced to three years of supervised release to follow her prison sentence and was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and a $100 special assessment.  White was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate at the federal courthouse in Jackson, where he also presided over the May 2013 trial of the case.

“Independent laboratories play a critical role in assisting businesses to accurately monitor and report discharges of industrial pollutants that may adversely affect the environment,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Dreher.  “Businesses cannot fulfill this important responsibility if these laboratories are not honest brokers and falsify test results and monitoring reports.  This prosecution shows that fraudulent testing and reporting by laboratories will not be tolerated.”

“Americans expect their public water supply to be clean and safe to use,” said Maureen O’Mara, Special Agent in Charge of the Environmental Protection Agency’s criminal enforcement program in Mississippi.  “In order to safeguard public health it is absolutely essential that governments receive accurate test results and measurements.  This case demonstrates that individuals who falsify environmental records and try to mislead the government will be prosecuted and held accountable.”

White, owner, operator and manager of Mississippi Environmental Analytical Laboratories Inc., was found guilty in May 2013 of two false statement counts and one count of obstructing proceedings.  Evidence at trial established that White was hired to perform laboratory testing of a manufacturer’s industrial process waste water samples and then to use those results to complete monthly discharge monitoring reports for submission to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.  However, for the months October  to December 2008, White created discharge monitoring reports (DMRs) that falsely represented that laboratory testing had been performed on samples when, in fact, such testing had not been done.  White further created a fictitious laboratory report and presented it to her client for use in preparing another DMR for January 2009.  White made false statements to a federal agent during a subsequent criminal investigation.

The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Richard J. Powers of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Gaines Cleveland of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi.

Though this case dealt solely with the analysis of wastewater samples collected to demonstrate compliance with the Clean Water Act, it should serve as a cautionary tale for any company that relies on an independent lab for analysis as part of its hazardous waste determination.  Make certain that the lab you are using is reputable, is using the prescribed USEPA test methods, has the required independent certifications, and (in some states) is on the state environmental agencies approved lab list.

Contact me with any questions you may have about the hazardous waste determination or the regulations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).