Mocksville's former public-works director pleaded guilty tin federal court his week to charges that he ordered employees to falsify reports on the quality of the town's drinking water, had them dump extra chemicals into the town's wastewater plant in order to get kickbacks, and used town equipment and state inmates for his side business.
Daniel L. Smith, who became the public-works director in 1994, pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Greenville, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District. Smith resigned in December.
Nicholas Slogick, who oversaw operations at the town's water- and sewage-treatment plants, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Greenville, the news release said. Slogick was fired in July.
State environmental officials say that there no threat to the town's water at any time.
"We have no evidence that there was a health concern," said Tom Boyd, a senior environmental specialist in the public-water section of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
The charges were the result of a yearlong investigation by the criminal division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the State Bureau of Investigation.
The town has to submit data to the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources about the turbidity of the town's water in order to meet federal environmental regulations. Turbidity refers to the amount of cloudiness in water, Boyd said. If the water is too cloudy, that may obscure disease-causing bacteria, he said.
Smith is accused of instructing employees to send false data that understated the turbidity of the town's drinking water.
He also conspired to violate the Clean Water Act by getting town employees to "pour massive amounts of degreaser and caustic, a corrosive chemical," into the town's sewer system, according to federal prosecutors. Smith received kickbacks because he would dump the chemicals and then get the town to buy more.