Lab Manager Guilty Tampering: John W. Shelton Pleads Guilty To Tampering With Water Samples In West Virginia

October 11, 2014 | By Garrett Montgomery More

Lab Manager Guilty Tampering

Lab manager pleads guilty to tampering with water samples from 2008 through June of 2013, story goes viral. John W. Shelton, a former lab manager from the Appalachian Laboratories in West Virginia appeared in court last week, where he pleaded guilty to tampering with water samples by diluting them using distilled water, he also confessed to not maintaining the samples at the proper temperature in order to give the mining and coal industries what they paid for – good samples.

John W. Shelton appeared in front of Judge Irene Berger at the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia on Thursday, where he pleaded guilty to tampering with water samples when he worked as lab manager at the Appalachian Laboratories.

The Appalachian Laboratories Inc. was certified by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to sample and analyze water discharges from mining and coal operations as part of the Clean Water Act program.

Shelton began working at the Appalachian Laboratories in 2008 as a field technician and was given the strict order by an unnamed manager to make sure he did the necessary to deliver “good samples” to the more than 100 mining and coal companies in West Virginia that paid for the tests.

The names of the mine sites and coal companies implicated in the case were not revealed. The 46-year-old man who was later promoted to field supervisor told judge Berger, from 2008 to June of 2013 in order to keep his job, and make his boss happy, he along with several other colleagues tampered with water samples.

The disgraced lab manager revealed that he, or members of his team, often added distilled water to samples to dilute them in order to make sure that the samples would comply with permit limits.

If diluting the sample was still considered as “bad water,” the lab manger would throw it away and replace it with a clean one. Shelton also confessed to using water only from “honeyhole,” meaning he would often take samples from one specific site that would always test within permit limits.

Court documents showed that the former Appalachian Laboratories employee did not maintain water samples at the proper temperature. The lab manager is also guilty of leaving the water samples in the back of his van for hours.

He admitted that he only put them in coolers, if he knew that DEP inspectors were in the area.

The lab manager pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the Clean Water Act and has been released on $10,000 bail.

On February 26, 2015, Shelton will be sentenced and could serve at least 5 years in prison, and be fined up to $250,000.

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Category: Health

Comments (7)

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  1. Scott Horvuth says:

    Unbelievable…5 years in prison is not enough. People trusted their findings, but they were sellouts to the dirty industry.

  2. Barn says:

    why are his managers and all involved in jail along with him. They could make a cake, put little chisels in them and chase it down with an un-tampered water sample to drink!!!

  3. Pat Miljour says:

    Looks to me like he just got himself a new higher paying job with the coal industry. This will really look great on any resume he submits to them.

  4. sun says:

    …water is precious and this man’s job was one of great and upmost responsibility…if he is telling the truth then everyone conspiring to give “good samples” should be prosecuted…one man alone should not take the fall for this big irresponsibility against humanity’s precious resource…before we get down to the nitty gritty…I want to say I am totally disgusted…this is a perfect example of why you should do the right thing people…John W. Shelton is like a fly caught in a proverbial web…and now let’s not forget about the payout…inquiring minds wish to know just how much was the coal and mining industry paying him and his manager???…and still we wonder where disease and cancer come from…

  5. antonioj says:

    All the companies exec’s should be there with him in fact his boss the governor along with the state congress.

    Corruption can only exists at the lower levels if it is at least tolerated at the upper levels.

    This is the best government your money can buy folks.

  6. Guest says:

    What about his coworkers? Especially the boss!

  7. Jack Bond says:

    5 years? His life savings should be seized so that he can watch his family become homeless, just before he is executed.


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