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Lab Director to Serve Time for False Water Tests

Michael J. McKenna was sentenced to nine months in prison in part for submitting false and fraudulent environmental test reports to the Upper Moreland-Hatboro Joint Sewer Authority.

The laboratory director of a Douglassville-based company has been sentenced to nine months in prison stemming from an 84-count indictment, which includes 30 Clean Water Act violations and  furnished to the Upper Moreland-Hatboro Joint Sewer Authority

Michael J. McKenna, 54, of Kutztown, formerly the laboratory director, president and owner of Blue Marsh Laboratories, Inc. in Douglassville, was said to have falsified environmental testing reports for several public authorities in southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including the Upper Moreland-Hatboro Joint Sewer Authority. 

According to the 34-page indictment filed by the U.S. Department of Justice, from September 2005 until about June 2006, McKenna, realizing that he did not have the necessary materials, or required equipment in proper working order, prepared and sent test reports to the Upper Moreland-Hatboro Joint Sewer Authority for ammonia, TSS, cyanide and dioxin environmental testing and analyses. 

The authority paid McKenna's company $6,504.10 in a May 24, 2006 check, according to the indictment and on June 7, 2006 was issued a certificate of analyses on June 7, June 22, June 26, June 30, July 18, July 19 and August 8 of that year. The authority paid Blue Marsh $931.40 on Sept. 7, 2006, $92.50 on Sept. 20, $132 on Oct. 4 and $2,989.70 on Oct. 18. 

According to its Web site, the Upper Moreland/Hatboro Joint Sewer Authority services more than 10,000 customers in its coverage area of Hatboro and Upper Moreland, as well as residents in the eastern tip of Horsham, the northern portion of Upper Dublin, the southern section of Warminster, and Masons Mill Business Park in Bryn Athyn.

In addition to serving jail time, McKenna's company, Blue Marsh Laboratories, Inc., was sentenced to five years probation. McKenna and the company was ordered to share the restitution cost of $14,114.50. 

McKenna on Monday pleaded guilty to the conspiracy which resulted in the false reporting of pollution test results, as well as reporting a fake result in testing imported fruit for potential contamination.

According to authorities, he admitted to devising a scheme to defraud customers and to obtain money and property from customers by means of false and fraudulent representations regarding test results. He also admitted to violating the Clean Water Act, and submitting a false test report to the Food and Drug Administration.                      

Blue Marsh and McKenna, primarily in the business of analytical testing of environmental samples of water and wastewater, caused environmental test reports to be prepared and mailed to customers which falsely stated that proper EPA methods were followed when they weren't, according to authorities.

The test results then were false, inaccurate and unreliable, federal authorities said.

Besides reports falsified for the Upper Moreland-Hatboro Joint Sewer Authority, authorities said McKenna prepared and mailed false and fraudulent test results for Hurricane Katrina flood water samples which were required by EPA to be tested for contamination by various pollutants, including, among others, cyanide, and herbicides MCPA and MCPP.

From approximately July 2007 through September 2007, McKenna, through his company is said to have prepared and sent false and fraudulent test results required by the United States Food and Drug Administration for the testing of certain fruit which had been imported from South America and which were required to be tested for pesticide contamination.              

"Americans expect their public water supply to be clean and safe to drink and the fruit they buy safe to eat," Special Agent-in-Charge David G. McLeod, Jr., of EPA's criminal enforcement program in Pennsylvania said in a press release. "Violators who submit false reports or incorrect data undermine our efforts to protect the public and the environment."        

The case was investigated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division, the United States Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations, and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service.  It was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Moshang, III and Assistant United States Attorney Elizabeth Abrams.

HarleyGirl04 September 12, 2012 at 12:53 AM
I think as paying customers we have a right to know what was being hidden.
william c. hewish III September 12, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Is there no oversight on who you folks hire to do these test.there is something rotten in demark. these folks have to be thouroughly sceened this is tax payers money you gambiling with you should be ashamed of yourselves.this is why people dislike polititions.none of you would ever get my vote again.
Cora Rowe September 15, 2012 at 01:22 AM
It's good somebody finally caught on to the scam. I would never think that the company testing my water could be falsifying records.
woodsy October 22, 2012 at 02:06 AM
Has anyone been able to attend the Sept. or Oct. meetings? Does anyone have an update to this story? Has another firm been found who can perform the tests? Like others, I'm curious about how long it will take in order to collect, analyze and provide accurate test data to customers.
Sarah Cusati December 03, 2012 at 10:08 PM
I guess it's a good thing he did not have the same attorney the cop of 17 years had, and received, 15 days in jails for 10 felonies. Including many drug offenses, stealing and mis-treating his informers, and other things.Our justice system is a laugh, punish the poor, extremely, and let your buddies go.

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