Former water treatment plant superintendent pleads guilty to falsifying reports

June 30, 2009
According to the Department of Justice —  Herbert L. Corn, the former superintendent of the city of Rochester Wastewater Treatment Plant in Rochester, Ind., pleaded guilty June 30 in U.S. District Court in South Bend, Ind., to falsifying monthly discharge monitoring reports that concealed violations of the Clean Water Act at the Rochester plant.

Corn pleaded guilty to a five-count felony information charging him with making false statements in discharge monitoring reports submitted to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). He admitted that from September 2004 and continuing through May 2007, he submitted at least five reports containing false data for treated water that is discharged from the Rochester plant into Mill Creek, a tributary of the Tippecanoe River.

Under the federal Clean Water Act, which is administered and enforced by IDEM as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), before discharging the waste water it collects to Mill Creek, the Rochester plant must treat the water to meet concentration limits on certain pollutants as set forth in its permit. Three pollutants in the permit that have concentration limits are Escherichia Coli bacteria (E. Coli), Ammonia NH3-N and Carbonaceous Biological Oxygen Demand-5 (CBOD). The discharge of pollutants above the concentration limits for these pollutants is a violation of the permit and the Clean Water Act. The Rochester plant is required to report and certify the results of its discharge sampling on a monthly basis to IDEM.

As part of the plea agreement, Corn admitted that on at least five separate occasions from September 2004 and continuing through May 2007 he reported levels in the discharge reports submitted to IDEM that indicated the levels of E. Coli, Ammonia NH3-N, and CBOD-5 were in compliance with the permit concentration limits when he knew in fact they were not.

As a result of the felony conviction, Corn could be sentenced up to two years in prison and fined up to $250,000 for each count.

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