Cary town worker pleads guilty to falsifying nearly 300 drinking water samples

Photo from West End community development corporation

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WNCN) — A Cary town worker pleaded guilty Monday to falsifying nearly 300 drinking water sampling results that affect drinking water for the city of 225,000 people, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

Christopher Dale Miller, 41, of Cary worked for the Town of Cary as a state certified distribution technician where he collected water samples for testing from the drinking water system and testing for residual chlorine in the field, U.S. Attorney’s Eastern District office spokesman Don Connelly said in an email.

Miller also collected samples from various locations, packaging and placing the samples in a cooler, and delivered them to the Town of Cary’s lab where they were tested for total coliform and bacteria.

“Miller, however, failed to do so,” Connelly said.

“Miller made false statements by certifying to the Town of Cary that he obtained water samples from the required locations when, in reality, he only took samples from a few locations,” officials said.

Between August 27, 2014 and December 2014, Miller falsified documentation for at least 278 samples.

The Town of Cary discovered the falsified sampling in late December 2014 and conducted an internal investigation.

“Miller initially lied to his supervisors, and then later, admitted to collecting multiple samples from the same site and falsifying chain of custody documents,” officials said.

“Miller knew that his conduct impacted 225,000 consumers of the public water system,” officials added.

The Town of Cary fired Miller and reported the matter to state officials, and cooperated in the federal investigation.

The certified sample locations were submitted along with the lab results to North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.

The samples and associated documentation are required as part of the NC DENR’s drinking water monitoring program.

“By sending falsified samples and documents to NC DENR, Miller inhibited NC DENR from carrying out its mission to protect public water supplies and thereby public health,” officials said.

Miller is scheduled for sentencing on December 12.

The United States Environment Protection Agency – Criminal Investigation Division was the agency that investigated the case.

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