Berks businessman admits falsifying drinking water reports

 

The owner of a Berks County-based construction company has admitted in court to falsifying lab reports for water samples following the installation of new water mains in Berks and Lancaster counties.

Matthew Barrasso pleaded guilty Tuesday to tampering with public records, violating the safe drinking water act, forgery, and unsworn falsification.

The 43-year-old owner of Barrasso Excavation Inc. in Oley Township was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay a $12,500 fine, according to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

"Pennsylvanians have a constitutional right to clean air and pure water and, as attorney general, I am committed to defending that right against anyone who tries to impede on it," Shapiro said.

Barrasso was arrested in June after an investigation found that he changed lab results to indicate that samples from a water main his company was hired to replace in Wyomissing were negative for total coliform and E. coli, according to Shapiro.

The borough, acting on those results, connected the new water main to the Wyomissing distribution system that served approximately 40 residential connections, Shapiro said.

Barrasso engaged in similar conduct on a project in Quarryville, Lancaster County, Shapiro said.

"The defendant put the health and well-being of the people of Berks and Lancaster counties at risk by falsely reporting the absence of harmful bacteria in their drinking water," Shapiro said. "Thanks to the hard work of our Environmental Crimes Section, we put an end to his dangerous behavior."

Shapiro said he has made it a priority to investigate and prosecute environmental crimes, including those that violate the Safe Drinking Water Act.