- Associated Press - Friday, September 23, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Another former water testing lab employee is expected to plead guilty in a false sampling scheme for southern West Virginia coal mines, according to federal prosecutors.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports (https://bit.ly/2dgbOP7 ) that documents filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Charleston show John Brewer has reached a proposed plea agreement on one count of falsifying water sample reports under the Clean Water Act.

Brewer, a former manager at Appalachian Laboratories in Beckley, could face up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine under the agreement.

The charge against Brewer says he and other lab co-workers often would backdate water samples to avoid taking more samples that would reveal water quality violations.

Brewer had been scheduled for a trial starting Oct. 17. A grand jury previously indicted him on charges that could have stretched his penalties to a maximum 30 year prison sentence and $1.5 million fine.

Another ex-lab employee, John Shelton, is serving a 21-month prison sentence in a plea deal over faking water reports.

Mike Hissam, an attorney representing Appalachian Laboratories, said the lab is shocked and saddened that Brewer claimed wrongdoing, contrary to his claims in the company’s internal investigation.

“John Brewer was removed from any management role more than a year ago, and he was terminated from his employment with Appalachian Laboratories on August 12,” Hissam said in a statement. “The company and its management continue to believe that these isolated incidents involving former employees are not representative of the lab or its values.”

The false sampling occurred between 2008 and 2013 and the results were included in monthly reports to the state Department of Environmental Protection, according to the charging document.


Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, https://wvgazettemail.com.

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