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Memphis CEO sentenced to 3 years in prison for submitting false reports on water quality

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) – A Memphis CEO was sentenced to three years in prison for fabricating and submitting hundreds of false water monitoring reports required under the Clean Water Act in Tennessee and Mississippi.

The U.S. District Court ordered co-owner and CEO of Environmental Compliance and Testing (ECT) DiAne Gordon, 61, to pay restitution in the amount of $222,388.88. Gordon received an additional 10 months’ incarceration on the related probation revocation for having engaged in the criminal conduct while on supervision.

“The Clean Water Act ensures that water quality is maintained throughout the United States,” said 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. Because honest reporting of this data is so important to the functioning of the Act, our office will vigorously prosecute individuals who falsely report test results.”

ECT holds itself out to the public as a full-service environmental consulting firm and offered, among other things, sampling and testing of stormwater, process water, and wastewater.

Customers, typically concrete companies, hired ECT to take samples and analyze them in a manner consistent with Clean Water Act permit requirements.

According to court documents, Gordon claimed to gather and send the samples to a full-service environmental testing laboratory.

The alleged results were memorialized in lab reports and chain of custody forms submitted to two state agencies, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), to satisfy permit requirements.

In reality, Gordon fabricated the test results and related reports.

She even forged documents from a reputable testing laboratory in furtherance of her crime, according to court documents.

Gordon then billed her clients for the sampling and analysis.

Law enforcement and regulators quickly determined that Gordon created and submitted, or caused to be submitted, at least 405 false lab reports and chain of custody forms from her company in Memphis to state regulators since 2017.

“Today’s sentence should be a reminder to those who choose to undermine the public’s confidence in our nation’s water quality for their own financial gain will be vigorously prosecuted,” said Special Agent in Charge Charles Carfagno of the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division’s (EPA-CID) Southeast Area Branch. “We commend the assistance of our state partners with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation for their substantial assistance throughout this investigation.”

Gordon was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge John T. Fowlkes Jr. of the Western District of Tennessee.

EPA-CID investigated the case.

MDEQ and TDEC provided invaluable assistance to federal law enforcement officers.

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