Operator of Condo Wastewater Treatment Plants Indicted in Connection With Fraudulent Monitoring Scheme
Authorities Allege Defendant Faked Wastewater Samples at Three Massachusetts Facilities and Submitted False Reports to MassDEP
BOSTON – The president of a private wastewater treatment company and an engineering company in Fitchburg has been indicted on dozens of charges in connection with falsifying wastewater samples and test results at condominium facilities in Dover, Holliston, and Lunenburg, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
Kent Oldfield, age 52, of Fitchburg, the president of SRA Inc. and New England Engineering Group, LLC, was indicted today by a Statewide Grand Jury on charges of Knowingly Tampering with Wastewater Test Methods (six counts) and Knowingly Making False Reports to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) (52 counts).
“The public relies on certified operators like the defendant to ensure that harmful pollutants are removed from wastewater discharged directly into the ground in our communities,” said AG Healey. “Those who falsify these reports, which can have significant public health and environmental consequences, are violating the law.”
"Wastewater has a direct impact on groundwater, a valuable natural resource. For that reason, wastewater must be treated to meet strict environmental standards,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “We rely on certified operators to test discharge water, factually report their findings to us, and ensure that wastewater is properly treated before it is discharged. Most operators do it right, but we will enforce on those that do not. "
Oldfield is expected to be arraigned in Norfolk, Worcester, and Middlesex Superior Courts at later dates.
Authorities allege that in July and August 2014, Oldfield submitted to a laboratory for testing, and later reported to MassDEP, samples from two wastewater treatment facilities he had been hired to operate. Those samples should have been, but were not, taken from each facility’s stream of treated wastewater.
The investigation also revealed that, on dozens of occasions between March 2013 and April 2015, Oldfield allegedly falsified wastewater sampling results from three condominium facilities in reports to MassDEP in order to cover up permit violations at those facilities.
These charges stem from an investigation by the Massachusetts Environmental Strike Force, an interagency unit which is overseen by AG Healey, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew A. Beaton, and MassDEP Commissioner Suuberg. 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 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.
All of these charges are allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Turner Smith and Brittany Williams, with assistance from the Detectives from the Massachusetts Environmental Police, MassDEP Strike Force Director Pamela Talbot and investigators Tim Dame and Rich Tomczyk, and chemist Nina Duston from MassDEP’s Wall Experiment Station laboratory in Lawrence.