Division of Criminal Justice
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Zulima V. Farber , Attorney General

Division Of Criminal Justice
Gregory A. Paw, Director

For Immediate Release:
June 15, 2006
printable version

For Further Information Contact:
Peter Aseltine
Attorney General’s Office
609.292.4791

Read Related Indictment>>

WATER SYSTEM OPERATORS INDICTED FOR FALSIFYING TEST RESULTS
Two Former Managers For United Water Toms River Face Criminal Charges

TRENTON – Attorney General Zulima V. Farber and Division of Criminal Justice Director Gregory A. Paw announced that two former managers for United Water Toms River Inc. were indicted today for manipulating a water source during water quality testing in order to conceal the actual level of contaminants in the drinking water they supplied.

According to Director Paw, George Flegal, 56, of Jackson, who was general manager for United Water Toms River, and Richard Ottens Jr., 52, of New Egypt, who was operations manager, were each indicted on two counts of tampering with public records, a third-degree crime, and two counts of falsifying records, a fourth-degree crime, in connection with two reports based on the false testing that were submitted to the state Department of Environmental Protection. United Water Toms River is a regulated utility serving about 50,000 customers.

The state grand jury indictment alleges that Flegal and Ottens agreed to shut down one of three wells that led to the point of entry for the utility’s drinking water distribution system on Sept. 12, 2005 during a scheduled compliance sampling for radionuclides, naturally occurring radiation that can be hazardous at high levels. The men allegedly were concerned that high levels in the one well would cause the system to exceed maximum contaminant levels for radionuclides during the sampling at the plant in Berkeley Township. The water system had previously exceeded the maximum contaminant level for radionuclides.

“We allege that these two managers deliberately concealed the actual level of contaminants in the drinking water they were supplying,” said Attorney General Farber. “In doing so, they broke the law and showed a complete disregard for the welfare of their customers.”

The September 2005 compliance test appeared to show that radionuclides in the water system were within acceptable ranges. However, United Water discovered evidence during an internal audit that Flegal and Ottens had conspired to shut down the well. The company alerted DEP, which took enforcement action. The two managers were fined $5,000 each and face two-year license suspensions. DEP referred the matter to the Division of Criminal Justice and provided assistance in the criminal investigation.
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“The public has a right to know what's in the water they drink and that they can count on their water system operators to provide truthful information that reflects the company's integrity,” said DEP Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson.

The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Linda R. Feinberg in Mercer County. Crimes of the third degree carry sentences of up to five years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $15,000, while crimes of the fourth degree carry sentences of up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine. The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Deputy Attorney General Robert B. Donovan presented the case to the state grand jury. Donovan and acting Supervising State Investigator Jeffrey Gross conducted the investigation for the Division of Criminal Justice - Environmental Crimes Bureau, with assistance from the Department of Environmental Protection.

A copy of the indictment is linked to this press release at www.nj.gov/oag/.

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