Testing firm’s false storm water discharge reports spawn prison sentence

Sources: U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, Memphis; Department of Justice; CP staff

A federal judge has sentenced the chief executive officer of Environmental Compliance and Testing (ECT), Memphis, to 36 months in prison in connection with fabrication of Clean Water Act-mandated storm water discharge monitoring reports involving concrete and other industrial sites, and submission of those documents to Tennessee and Mississippi regulators. 

Under principal Diane Gordon, ECT billed itself as a consulting firm providing National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit compliance services. Following a plea agreement with U.S. District Court for Western Tennessee, she was sentenced to 26 months in prison, plus an additional 10 months’ incarceration on a related probation revocation for having engaged in criminal conduct while on court supervision. Gordon was also ordered to pay $222,300 in restitution to more than 20 businesses that had paid ECT for storm water sampling and testing. The bulk of restitution spans clients Memphis Ready Mix ($45,700), Southern Concrete ($37,700), West TN Ready Mix ($27,100), and BT Redi Mix ($20,500). 

With Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality assistance, the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division found that Gordon fabricated concrete and other industrial site clients’ test results and related reports; forged documents from a reputable testing laboratory; and, submitted, or caused to be submitted, more than 400 false lab report and chain of custody forms to state regulators since 2017. 

“[The] sentence appropriately reflects the harm caused by Gordon’s betrayal of her position of trust and her fraud upon her customers, the regulatory authorities, and the citizens of Tennessee and Mississippi,” says Justice Department Environment and Natural Resources Division Assistant Attorney Todd Kim. 

“The Clean Water Act ensures that water quality is maintained throughout the United States,” adds U.S. Attorney Joseph C. Murphy Jr. for the Western District of Tennessee. “Correct and accurate test results of discharges into rivers and streams, and the honest reporting of those results to regulatory authorities are important parts of the Act’s regulatory framework. Without accurate test results and reporting of those results, the Clean Water Act will not work as Congress intended.”

Related article
EPA tour leads to Clean Water Act 50th anniversary observance