President of Lee Water Testing Company Arraigned on Additional Charges, Prohibited from Operating Company
Authorities Allege Defendant Hid Evidence of Bacterial Contamination; Now Faces a Total of 58 Counts for Making and Submitting False Reports
PITTSFIELD - The president of a private water testing company in Lee has been arraigned on additional charges in connection with falsifying drinking water reports, Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office announced today. A judge has also imposed strict conditions that prohibit him from being involved in the operation of the company in any way.
William Enser, Jr., age 63, of Lee, the president of Berkshire Enviro-Labs, Inc., was arraigned in Berkshire Superior Court yesterday on new charges of Knowingly Falsifying Reports Submitted to the Department of Environmental Protection (14 counts) and Willfully Making False Reports to the Department of Environmental Protection (14 counts).
At the arraignment, Enser pleaded not guilty to the additional charges and was released on personal recognizance with the condition that he be prohibited from having any involvement in Berkshire Enviro-Labs (Enviro-Labs). In addition, Berkshire Superior Court Judge Daniel Ford, who presided over the arraignment, ordered the appointment of a receiver to take control of Enviro-Labs.
Enser had previously been arraigned on January 23 on 30 separate charges also related to falsifying drinking water reports. As a result of the initial charges, Enser had been prohibited by court order from acting as a drinking water system operator. He had also been barred from taking drinking water samples, conducting water testing or reporting water data.
Authorities allege that although he was no longer acting as a drinking water system operator or handling drinking water samples, Enser maintained involvement with Enviro-Labs and subsequently failed to submit required sampling results to Massachusetts environmental officials that showed bacterial contamination in drinking water samples.
“These additional charges allege that this defendant failed to submit water sample analyses that showed bacterial contamination to the MassDEP,” said AG Coakley. “He is now prohibited from being involved in the operation of the company and is no longer able to tamper with water testing reports and potentially put people at risk.
“The Environmental Strike Force’s continued investigation into the activities of Mr. Enser, who has already been indicted for falsifying drinking water reports, has now revealed evidence of additional fraud,” said Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). “MassDEP is committed to upholding the integrity and the safety of drinking water programs across the Commonwealth.”
Kimmell added that all of the affected drinking water facilities have been contacted by MassDEP. MassDEP has worked with affected facilities, including collecting and analyzing water samples, to ensure that there are no future impacts to public health. MassDEP continues to work with those facilities to ensure compliance with all safe drinking water standards.
In September 2012, the AG's Office began an investigation after the matter was initially investigated and referred by MassDEP. As a result of its investigation, Enser’s company was suspended from acting as a certified drinking water lab to provide drinking water testing for private and public water suppliers in the western part of Massachusetts.
In January, Enser was indicted and arraigned on charges of Knowingly Falsifying Reports Submitted to the Department of Environmental Protection (15 counts) and Willfully Making False Reports to the Department of Environmental Protection (15 counts) in connection with backdating drinking water sample analyses to feign compliance with environmental laws.
Authorities received additional information indicating wrongdoing by Enser after he was initially indicted and arraigned in January. Further investigation revealed that Enser allegedly hid evidence of bacterial contamination. Authorities allege that between October 2012 and February 2013, Enser’s company continued to collect samples from various public water supplies. Investigation revealed that some of these samples tested positive for bacteria, but Enser allegedly did not report it to MassDEP. Instead, authorities allege that Enser would request each sampler to take several separate samples at each water supply and if one test did pass, he would choose that one to send to MassDEP.
Authorities also allege that in one instance in October 2012, Enser directed an employee to report a drinking water sample as coming from a public water supply when, in fact, the sample had come from the tap in the Enviro-Labs’ office.
As a result of the new indictments, Enser now faces a total of 58 counts for falsifying and submitting reports to MassDEP.
These charges stem from an investigation by the Massachusetts Environmental Strike Force, an interagency unit which is overseen by AG Coakley, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan, and MassDEP Commissioner Kimmell. The Strike Force comprises prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office, Environmental Police Officers assigned to the Attorney General’s Office, and investigators and engineers from the MassDEP who investigate and prosecute crimes that harm or threaten the state’s water, air, or land and that pose a significant threat to human health.
A Berkshire County Grand Jury returned initial indictments against Enser on January 16 and returned additional indictments against Enser on March 21. He was arraigned yesterday in Berkshire Superior Court where he pleaded not guilty to all charges. He is due back in Berkshire Superior Court on June 19 for a pre-trial conference.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Andrew Rainer, Chief of the Environmental Crimes Strike Force, and Assistant Attorney General Sara Farnum, of AG Coakley's Environmental Crimes Division, with assistance from the Massachusetts Environmental Police, and MassDEP Strike Force Director Pamela Talbot and investigators Tim Dame and Joel Rees. MassDEP staff in the Western Regional Office and in the state laboratory in Lawrence also worked to corroborate the technical findings, ensure the continued delivery of certified lab services to affected water suppliers, and to test drinking water samples in communities that may have been impacted by Enser’s actions.