April 28, 2011: Environmental Testing Lab Company and Owner Charged with Falsifying Test Results
Food and Drug Administration
Office of Criminal Investigations
U.S. Department of Justice Press Release
For Immediate Release
April 28, 2011
United States Attorney
Eastern District of Pennsylvania
Contact: Patty Hartman - Media Contact
Blue Marsh Laboratories, Inc., located in Douglassville, PA, and its president, laboratory director and owner Michael McKenna, were charged today by Indictment1 with 84 counts of fraud and false statements in connection with environmental laboratory testing, announced United States Attorney Zane David Memeger.
According to the indictment, defendants Blue Marsh and McKenna were engaged in the business of analytical testing of environmental samples, including water and wastewater samples, in order to determine the amounts of pollutants and levels of other chemicals present in the water. The defendants allegedly provided environmental testing services and reports to numerous customers, including federal agencies, local municipalities and business entities, that were required to comply with environmental laws pursuant to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection ("PA DEP") regulations. Following the analytical testing, it is alleged that defendant McKenna caused Blue Marsh to prepare, send and mail environmental test reports to customers. Defendants Blue Marsh and McKenna allegedly knew and understood that their customers were required to report certain environmental test results to the PA DEP, under authority delegated to it by the EPA, and sometimes were required to include these test results in an annual report to EPA. These environmental tests allegedly included the analysis of various water samples for the presence of cyanide, dioxin, and other pollutants and chemicals pursuant to approved EPA Methods.
The indictment alleges that defendants Blue Marsh and McKenna caused environmental test reports to be prepared and mailed to customers which falsely stated that the proper EPA methods for analysis were being performed when, as the defendants knew, the EPA Methods for testing and analysis were not being followed and the results were false, inaccurate and unreliable. For example, it is alleged that from approximately September 2005 through October 2005, the defendants prepared and mailed false and fraudulent test results for Hurricane Katrina flood water samples which were required by EPA to be tested for contamination by various pollutants, including, among others, cyanide, and herbicides MCPA and MCPP. From approximately June 2006 through December 2006, the defendants allegedly prepared and mailed false and fraudulent water test results required by the United States Army Corps of Engineers for four separate reservoirs which were required to be tested for contamination by various pollutants, including ammonia; tested for Total Suspended Solids ("TSS") to determine whether the water contained excess solids which do not dissolve in water and which may be harmful to fish and other organisms in the water; and tested for Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen ("TKN") to determine whether the reservoir water contained excess nitrogen. From approximately July 2007 through September 2007, it is further alleged that the defendants prepared and sent false and fraudulent test results required by the United States Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") for the testing of certain fruit, that is, tangelos, which had been imported from South America, and which were required to be tested for contamination by pesticides, including prochloraz, a chlorinated pesticide not registered in the United States but still used in other countries.
At various times in 2006 and 2007, it is also alleged that the defendants prepared and submitted false and fraudulent environmental test reports to the Upper Moreland/Hatboro Joint Sewer Authority, the Gloucester County Utilities Authority and Upper Merion Township Industrial Pre-Treatment Program permit holders Elan Pharmaceutical Research Corp., Merck and Company, and Hope's Country Fresh Cookies in connection with the analyses and testing of water samples for various types of pollutants, which these customers were required by law to report to EPA.
It is alleged that, although made directly aware by several of defendant Blue Marsh's employees, including its laboratory manager, the critical equipment in the lab was not in operating condition, and the proper materials and supplies to perform various EPA Methods for analysis and testing were not present. Defendant McKenna allegedly directed Blue Marsh employees to complete the analyses and tests and send them to customers as if the tests had been properly administered when, as McKenna knew, they had not.
INFORMATION REGARDING THE DEFENDANTS
|NAME||ADDRESS||AGE OR DATE OF BIRTH|
|Michael J. McKenna||Kutztown, PA||53 years old|
|Blue Marsh Laboratories, Inc.||1605 Benjamin Franklin Highway, Douglassville, PA|
If convicted of the charges, the defendant McKenna faces a substantial term of imprisonment, a $22,000,000 fine, 3 years supervised release, mandatory restitution, and a $8,400 special victims/witness assessment.
The case was investigated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division, the United States Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations, and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service. The case has been assigned to Assistant United States Attorneys Seth Weber and Special Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Moshang.