OXFORD, Miss.— A Greenville lab operator hired to test water samples to help insure water quality for dozens of towns throughout the Mississippi Delta was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Thursday for submitting false statements and lab results to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. William C. Lamar, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi, together with Charles Carfagno, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Environmental Protection Agency’s criminal enforcement program in the Southeast, announced the sentence.
John H. Couey, 44, of Greenville was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge Glen Davidson, in Oxford following a guilty plea to five felony counts of knowingly making false material statements in documents required to be maintained under the Clean Water Act.
Couey is the owner and lab director of Davis Research, Inc., an environmental analytical laboratory located in Avon, Mississippi. Davis Research performed analytical testing services for more than 100 cities, towns, state and federal agencies, and businesses in the Mississippi Delta. Couey, as lab director, falsified over 1000 laboratory reports that were submitted to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality to demonstrate compliance under the Clean Water Act.
Judge Davidson sentenced Couey to 18 months incarceration on each of the five counts of conviction, to run concurrently. Upon release from prison, Couey will be placed on supervised release for a term of one year. Couey is scheduled to report to prison on March 16, 2020.
William C. Lamar, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi, said, “One of our top priorities is to protect the environment from those who would disregard our environmental regulations and laws, placing in jeopardy the well-being of our citizens.”
“The defendant in this case is alleged to have falsified thousands of water test results, including results used to confirm the safety of drinking water,” said Charles Carfagno, acting Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Mississippi. “This case demonstrates that EPA will hold accountable those who violate laws designed to protect the health and safety of our communities.”
This case was investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division, and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. The case was prosecuted by AUSA Robert Mims.