- Associated Press - Thursday, October 9, 2014

BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) - A lab worker faces up to five years in prison after pleading guilty to tampering with water samples.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin says John W. Shelton pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiring to violate the Clean Water Act. Sentencing is set for Feb. 26, 2015, in U.S. District Court in Beckley.

Goodwin says in a news release that the 47-year-old Daniels resident admitted tampering with water samples while working as a field technician and manager at Appalachian Laboratories.

The lab conducted water sampling and analysis to ensure that pollutant discharges from coal mining operations into public waterways didn’t exceed permitted limits.

Daniels told the court that he and other employees added distilled water to samples to dilute them. The dilution made it appear that the samples were within permissible limits.

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