A jury convicted 55-year-old Theresa Neubauer in the case of tainted well water in south suburban Crestwood.
“I feel the need to apologize to the residents of Crestwood, to the point that there’s a lot of people there that know me and still know me for who I am, and for them I apologize that this even had to take place. That my name, that the town of Crestwood had to be smeared all over the place,” Neubauer said.
Apologetic but not fully responsible — that’s what Neubauer is saying regarding claims that she is the one who lied to the Village of Crestwood. For decades, there have been fears that the water in Crestwood was making people sick, and on Monday a jury found her guilty on all 11 counts to conceal criminal action and lying to the government about it.
During that time, Neubauer was a supervisor in the water department. She signed documents that lied about the true source of the village’s drinking water; and, for years submitted false documents to cover up the fact that the residents of Crestwood were drinking water from a well that was not properly tested.
“In my opinion, she is nothing but a scapegoat,” said Neubauer’s attorney Tom Breen.
“It’s wrong. It’s a bunch of bologna,” said the defendant’s father Emil Neubauer.
Tricia Krause raised her family in Crestwood and claims the water has made both of her adult children ill for life. She says Neubauer could have stopped it from happening with the stroke of a pen. She has been waiting 24 years for this guilty verdict.
“She knew the well was being used illegally,” Krause said.
No one can know for sure now if the water from Crestwood’s well No. 1 was contaminated. There is no definitive way to test it any longer, prosecutors claim. This was a case about someone who tried to cover up what was illegal.
“I hope this verdict sends a message to every city official who’s involved in operating drinking water systems in the state,” said Spec. Agent Randall Ashe, U.S. EPA Criminal Division. “If they lie to the state, they will be investigated and prosecuted.”
Neubauer is on paid leave as Crestwood’s police chief.
She is expected to be sentenced in October. She could face up to five years in prison