Jury set in trial of ex-Crestwood official accused of lying about tainted water
BY CASEY TONER Sun-Times Media firstname.lastname@example.org April 22, 2013 8:38PM
Updated: May 24, 2013 6:41AM
A jury was selected Monday for the federal trial of Crestwood’s former water department boss, who’s charged with lying to state regulators about the village using tainted well water in its drinking supply for many years.
Theresa Neubauer, who’s on paid leave as the village’s police chief, faces 11 counts in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Prosecutors last week dropped 11 other charges against her.
The criminal trial is expected to begin Tuesday and last into next week.
Neubauer, 55, has been getting her full salary since she was indicted in August 2011.
Former Crestwood water operator Frank Scaccia, 61, was indicted with Neubauer, but he pleaded guilty April 11 to a single count of making a false statement. He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine and is due in court next on May 15. He did not agree to testify against Neubauer, his attorney said.
Neubauer and Scaccia were charged with lying to Illinois Environmental Protection Agency investigators about Crestwood using well water containing vinyl chloride, a carcinogen, to supplement Lake Michigan water in its drinking water as a way to save money.
Federal prosecutors allege that the village, under former Mayor Chester Stranczek, used the polluted water from 1985 to 2007, deliberately misleading the IEPA. Stranczek, who was mayor for 38 years until 2007 and now resides in Florida, was not indicted, likely because he suffers from dementia.
Former Crestwood resident Tricia Krause was at the trial on Monday, watching jury selection and taking extensive notes. Krause began investigating and drew media attention to the water scandal after her son and daughter developed leukemia and tumors as children.
Krause’s former baby sitter, Adriane Weyforth, who also developed multiple tumors, was in court Monday. Weyforth, Krause and her two children are plaintiffs in one of more than 100 pending lawsuits against Crestwood for its use of the well water.
After the jurors were selected, Judge Joan Gottschall urged them to avoid the news because the trial is drawing local media coverage.
“We’re trying to make sure outside sources do not influence you in any way,” she told the jury.