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California Waste Water Company Official Pleads Guilty to State Charges Related to a Hazardous Materials Fraud Scheme

On February 2, 2018, Charles Mundy, vice president of environmental compliance and facilities operations at Santa Clara Waste Water Company (SCWWC), pleaded guilty in Superior Court of California, Ventura County, Ventura, California, to various felony offenses. He was charged with failure to warn of a serious concealed danger, disposal of hazardous waste, filing a false or forged instrument, and reckless disregard for handling hazardous waste causing unreasonable risk. Mundy also pleaded no contest to the felony offense of causing great bodily injury by emitting an air contaminant, and to the misdemeanor offenses of repeatedly violating labor safety standards and failing to update a hazardous materials business plan. At the time of his plea, Mundy provided a money order in the amount of $100,000 as partial payment toward restitution.

Mundy was indicted for his role in an explosion at the SCWWC facility in Santa Paula, California, on November 18, 2014. The investigation revealed the blast was caused by the mixing and disposal of hazardous chemicals into a vacuum truck that was not rated to transport chemicals. Hazardous materials had been sucked from approximately 20 individual unlabeled chemical totes into a vacuum cargo tank trailer when the explosion occurred. Numerous employees, first responders, and others were injured either by the explosion or by inhaling the toxic vapors that developed onsite shortly afterwards. During the subsequent execution of a search warrant at SCWWC, investigators recovered forged analytical results from Mundy’s office. It was later confirmed that he forged those results and submitted them to the City of Oxnard, California. He also failed to provide adequate personal protective equipment to employees working onsite.

Mundy is scheduled to be sentenced on March 2, 2018. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Mundy will serve 24 months in custody and be prohibited from employment in any capacity in the wastewater treatment industry for a period of 60 months.

DOT-OIG conducted this investigation jointly with the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division and the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office. The case was prosecuted by the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office and the California Attorney General’s Office.