Water Testing Lab Busted for Falsifying Test Results

Theft and conspiracy charges against owner and laboratory manager at Berks County water testing facility

HARRISBURG – Agents from the Attorney General’s Environmental Crimes Section have filed criminal charges against the owner of a Berks County water testing facility along with one other employee for allegedly submitting fraudulent laboratory reports, which generated more than $135,000 in revenue for the facility.

Corbett identified the defendants as Blue Marsh Laboratories owner and technical director Michael McKenna, 53, 1800 Lakeview Drive, Mohnton, and laboratory manager, Debbie Wanner, 44, 1425 Kenhorst Blvd., Reading.

Corbett explained that many of Blue Marsh’s customers held permits issued by the Department of Environmental Protection or the Environmental Protection Agency that required them to have their drinking water or wastewater tested for contaminants.

According to the investigation, there was allegedly a widespread falsification of data on the reports that Blue Marsh provided to their customers.

“Just as if a mechanic were to put an emissions sticker on a car regardless of the test outcome, Blue Marsh was not helping these clients protect the environment,” Corbett said.  “But, this is not only an environmental issue; Blue Marsh’s clients were paying for a service that they allegedly never received.”

Evidence and testimony regarding the alleged criminal activity was presented to a statewide investigating grand jury, which recommended the criminal charges being filed today.

According to the grand jury, there were instances where either McKenna or Wanner instructed Blue Marsh employees to fabricate analytical data to appease their customers.

The investigation determined that Blue Marsh provided more than 300 fraudulent certificates of analysis to various customers between 2005 and 2008, which generated $135,004 in revenue for the company.

McKenna is charged with 55 counts of deceptive or fraudulent business practices, 55 counts of theft by deception, 55 counts of unlawful conduct, 55 counts of receiving stolen property, four counts of criminal conspiracy and one count of corrupt organizations.

Wanner is charged with 55 counts of unlawful conduct, four counts of criminal conspiracy and one count of corrupt organizations.

Wanner was preliminarily arraigned yesterday before Berks County Magisterial District Judge Victor M. Frederick and released on her own recognizance.  A warrant has been issued for McKenna’s arrest.

The case will be prosecuted in Berks County by Deputy Attorney General Stevan Kip Portman of the Attorney General’s Environmental Crimes Section.

Corbett thanked the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for their assistance with this investigation.


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