Trial begins over alleged tainting of E. coli tests

2012-10-30T23:30:00Z Trial begins over alleged tainting of E. coli testsBy Marisa Kwiatkowski, (219) 662-5333

HAMMOND | The attorney-laden trial of the former contract operator of the Gary Sanitary District wastewater treatment plant and two of its employees opened Tuesday with a question of intentions.

The U.S. attorney's office contends United Water Services Inc., former Gary plant manager Dwain Bowie and plant superintendent Gregory Ciaccio intentionally tampered with wastewater-monitoring methods to meet mandated environmental standards, according to the 26-count indictment. They are accused of adding extra chlorine before samples were taken.

Defense attorneys Larry Mackey and James P. Hanlon said their clients did not conspire or falsify any tests.

On Tuesday, Mackey told the jury in opening arguments there is nothing wrong with raising chlorine levels, then taking the E. coli samples when chlorine levels are highest. He said the defendants wrote down accurate results of the tests — and kept more documentation than required by law.

"We're not going to scheme to save a few pennies on a multimillion-dollar project," Mackey said.

At least a dozen attorneys sat in the federal courtroom Tuesday, representing both the U.S. attorney's office and the three defendants.

The highly technical trial will continue today and is estimated to last about three weeks.

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