Crestwood Toxic Water Trial Set for August

Village to pay for suspects' legal defense

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Two south suburban Crestwood officials indicted on federal charges in the village’s tainted drinking water scandal will go on trial in August, according to a recent U.S. District Court filing.

    A jury trial is set for Aug. 6 for Police Chief Theresa Neubauer, who was a water department clerk and supervisor before joining the police department, and Frank Scaccia, the village’s former certified water operator, according to the filing.

    Both are accused of lying to environmental regulators about the village using water from a polluted well to supplement its drinking water supply for more than two decades.

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    U.S. District Court Judge Joan Gottschall is assigned to the case, according to the filing.

    The village is paying up to $200,000 for Neubauer’s defense and up to $150,000 for Scaccia’s. Each would have to pay Crestwood back if convicted on any of the charges.

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    First came the angry call from residents, and now a full-blown investigation is underway in one southwest suburb.

    Neubauer is on leave as police chief but has been kept on the village payroll at $61,500 a year since the U.S. attorney’s office announced her felony indictment in August. She has been working to help set up the process for Crestwood’s administrative hearings for violations of local ordinances, according to Mayor Robert Stranczek, and helping out with police department scheduling and “other things.”

    The village also is the target of several class-action lawsuits involving hundreds of current and former residents who contend their health was adversely affected by drinking the water.

    Crestwood officials allegedly told residents and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency it was using only Lake Michigan water as drinking water after 1985, when it discovered a village well had been tainted by vinyl chloride, a known carcinogen.

    Regulators later discovered the village continued to use the well for as much as 20 percent of its drinking water from 1985 to 2007.

    SouthtownStar