CHICAGO (CBS) -- A federal jury on Monday convicted Crestwood's former water supervisor of falsifying official reports about the testing and purity of water in the suburb.
Theresa Neubauer, 55, spoke with reporters after the verdict and says she'll seek probation. She said she was really a clerk transferring numbers from one sheet to another. She insists she's taking the fall for decisions made by elected officials.
"I'm devastated. My family, my friends are devastated," Neubauer said in a shaky voice. "The people that surround me today know me, know who I am, what I'm all about. Unfortunately, I held a position for a lot of years with the village of Crestwood, and I believe did my job to the best of my ability."
Ex-Water Official Guilty
Prosecutors did not show Crestwood water had been contaminated or caused any illness, only that water-quality reports had been falsified during Neubauer's tenure as water supervisor.
But the jury decided she deliberately filed reports that misled state officials about Crestwood mixing well water with its Lake Michigan water supply. Tests in 2007 showed that well was contaminated with vinyl chloride, a carcinogen.
"Nobody has the right to lie to the government, and I think the jury's verdict said Theresa Neubauer has no right to lie to the government," Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Chapman says.
By using well water to supplement its supplies, Crestwood was able to avoid fixing its leaky water system, saving almost $400,000 a year. But the higher cost may have been cancer.
Tricia Krause suspected contaminated water after her son developed leukemia, and her daughter developed a brain tumor. She wants Neubauer in prison.
"This is not fair. My family and I, we have been pretty much chained to our home as I had to be their caretaker. I have been in jail for the last 23 years," she said.
Krause helped start the investigation with a demand for water quality information from the village after her children developed a series of illnesses.
"I knew there was a problem, because when my son had been diagnosed with heart trouble, and his heart was racing at the age of three weeks old – his heart was racing at 320 beats per minute – he then further had whooping cough. He then was diagnosed with (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) for six years," she said.
Her daughter also developed leukemia and tumors as a child. Her former babysitter also developed tumors.
Krause said she was grateful for the verdict, after years of work she put in trying to find out caused her children's illnesses.
"People did not believe in me, yet I continued to gain the support of local news stations, as well as finding further documentation, which led up to the guilty Crestwood water verdict," Krause said.
Neubauer is next due in court May 15.
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