Enforcement

Summary of Criminal Prosecutions

Search Criminal Prosecution

FISCAL YEAR: 2012
1. PRINCIPAL DEFENDANT: Donald Jack (Don) Clark
E.D.  Tennessee  1:11-CR-63


The indictment charged Clark with falsifying monthly Discharge Monitoring Reports and Monthly Operating Reports from January 2008 through December 2010. The falsifications were intended to cover up Clark’s failure to properly operate the sewage treatment plant’s chlorination system, designed to disinfect the waste water prior to its discharge to Little North Mouse Creek, a tributary of the Hiwassee River. Clark had been a licensed wastewater treatment plant operator for over 14 years at the time of the incidents.



July 19, 2011
Clark was indicted on 72 counts of making false statements, a violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001.

CITATION: 33 USC 1319
September 27, 2011
Clark pled guilty to 12 counts.


Press Release
Department of Justice
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SEPTEMBER 27, 2011

DONALD JACK CLARK PLEADED GUILTY TO MAKING FALSE CLEAN WATER ACT DISCHARGE MONITORING REPORTS

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.-- Donald Clark, of Niota, Tenn., entered12 pleas of guilty today pursuant to an indictment returned by a federal grand jury charging him with 72 counts of making false documents in connection with the operation of the City of Niota, Tennessee's sewage treatment plant. Clark entered his guilty pleas before U.S. Magistrate Judge William Carter. Sentencing was set for January 9, 2012, at 9:00 a.m. .

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) issued a permit to the City of Niota to discharge treated waste water from the city's sewage treatment plant to Little North Mouse Creek, a tributary of the Hiwassee River. The permit was issued under TDEC's delegated authority to administer the federal Clean Water Act's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program in the State of Tennessee. The permit requires, among other things, that the waste water be treated with chlorine in order to disinfect the waste water prior to discharge.

Clark acknowledged through his guilty pleas that he created a total of 12 false Discharge Monitoring Reports from January 2008 through December 2010, in which he misrepresented that the waste water had been treated with chlorine and tested for residual chlorine concentration prior to discharge, as required under the permit. Clark faces a maximum punishment for each of the counts of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a maximum term of supervised release of three years. The indictment is the result of a joint investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ¬Criminal Investigation Division and EPA’s Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew T. Morris is representing the United States.

U.S. Attorney Bill Killian underscored the importance of the aggressive enforcement of environmental laws, stating “This prosecution demonstrates the EPA’s and the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s commitment to investigate and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law persons who submit false reports that undermine the integrity of the regulatory programs that protect the environment and human health.”

February 6, 2012
Clark was sentenced to 6 months incarceration, 24 months probation, which includes 6 months home detention and ordered to perform 150 hours of community service.


For Immediate Release
District of Tennessee
February 6, 2012

Former Sewage Treatment Plant Operator Sentenced To Six Months In Prison for Falsifying Monitoring Reports
Falsifications Hid Failures Disinfect the Sewage Prior to Discharge.

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - Donald Jack Clark, 58, of Niota, Tenn., was sentenced to six months in prison to be followed by two years of supervised release in the U.S.District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Chattanooga, by the Honorable Harry S. Mattice, Jr., U.S. District Judge. A special condition of Clark’s supervised release is that he will serve six months on home detention following his release from prison. Clark was also ordered to perform 150 hours of community service.

The sentence was the result of a guilty plea to 12 counts of making false documents required under the City of Niota’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit under the Federal Clean Water Act. The indictment charged Clark with falsifying monthly Discharge Monitoring Reports and Monthly Operating Reports from January 2008 through December 2010. The falsifications were intended to cover up Clark’s failure to properly operate the sewage treatment plant’s chlorination system, designed to disinfect the waste water prior to its discharge to Little North Mouse Creek, a tributary of the Hiwassee River. Clark had been a licensed wastewater treatment plant operator for over 14 years at the time of the incidents.

The indictment and subsequent conviction of Clark was the result of an investigation conducted by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) Criminal Investigation Division and EPA Office of Inspector General.

William C. “Bill” Killian, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, commented, “By falsifying the reports and claiming that he was properly disinfecting the waste water prior to its discharge, Clark potentially put others at risk for coming in contact with microbial organisms that could cause serious illnesses and diseases. This prosecution and sentence sends a clear message that those who would undermine our federal programs intended to protect human health and the environment by falsifying reports will be vigorously prosecuted.”

The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew T. Morris of the Knoxville U. S. Attorney’s Office.
STATUTE:
  • Title 18 U.S. Criminal Code (TITLE 18)

Top of page