U.S. Water News Online
PHOENIX — A Yuma woman who ran a laboratory that tested water samples for water companies, schools and farms in Yuma and La Paz counties has been accused of faking test results.
A federal grand jury indictment that was made public recently on charges Nancy Miller, 56, with three counts of mail fraud because she allegedly sent the fake test results through the mail.
The indictment alleges that Miller charged between $25 and $30 for each of 5,500 tests for fecal coliform and E. coli bacteria she was hired to perform in 2003 and 2004. She is accused of never testing some of the samples, which also came from waste water plants, mobile home parks and irrigation canals.
Miller owned Sunstate Environmental Laboratories in Yuma but said she agreed to close it in November, 2004 after a state investigation.
She told The Associated Press she still runs Sunstate Environmental Services, which manages water companies and wastewater facilities in Yuma and La Paz counties. She denied wrongdoing.
“I was going through a lot of emotional and physical problems at the time and to the best of my knowledge I don't remember doing anything wrong,” Miller said. “I didn't intentionally do anything wrong.”
Miller was unaware of the indictment until contacted by a reporter. A court date has not been set and she has not been arrested.
A Yuma company became suspicious in late 2003 because tests of canal water it sent to Miller always came back negative, according to the indictment. So the company, Riverside Environmental Services, split 13 samples and sent them to Miller and two other testing companies. Sunstate's test were negative, but the two other labs came up with positive tests for coliform and E. coli.
Miller's lab was licensed by the Arizona Department of Health Services. She said the director of the laboratory licensing division came into her office, reviewed documents and discussed the case. She said she agreed to voluntarily close the lab and has cooperated fully with investigators.
But the indictment accuses Miller of faking records when state inspectors questioned her procedures. The federal investigation that led to the indictment was done by the Environmental Protection Agency. The maximum sentence for a mail fraud conviction is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
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