Story Summary

Former Crestwood water official convicted

A jury has found Theresa Neubauer guilty on all 11 counts in the case of tainted well water in south suburban Crestwood.

Neubauer, 55, was accused of repeatedly lying about the use of community well contaminated water with toxic chemicals, in order to keep the water rates low for the town’s 11,000 residents.

Neubauer is on paid leave as Crestwood’s police chief.

Story Timeline
Previous Next
This story has 5 updates

The former head of Crestwood’s Water Department resigned after being convicted of lying about the use of a tainted well in the village.

Theresa Neubauer was found guilty of lying to environmental regulators.

She was accused of using misleading documents that said all of Crestwood’s drinking water came from Lake Michigan.

But, for roughly 22 years, Crestwood was also using well water that was tainted with vinyl chloride, a chemical which can cause cancer.

Neubauer faces up to five years in prison when she is sentenced in October.

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.

TheresaNeubauer

Theresa Neubauer

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

Closing arguments are expected today in the federal trial of a former Crestwood water department official. Capture

Prosecutors accuse village officials, including Theresa Neubauer, of lying to residents and the Illinois EPA when they said Crestwood was getting all of its water from Lake Michigan.  However, some water was coming from a well tainted with cancer causing chemicals.

The village faces more than 100 lawsuits from residents who claim they developed cancer and other diseases from polluted water.

The former water department chief of Crestwood is scheduled to go on trial this week in federal court.

Prosecutors accused village officials, including Theresa Neubauer,  lied to residents and the Illinois EPA when they said Crestwood was getting all of its water from Lake Michigan.   However,  some water was coming from a well tainted with cancer causing chemicals.

Another water department official pleaded guilty to making a false statement earlier this month.

The village faces more than 100 lawsuits from residents who claim they developed cancer and other diseases from polluted water.

A former official of Crestwood is pleading guilty in the suburb’s tainted water case.

Ex-certified water operator Frank Scaccia is admitting to making a false statement, just before he was supposed to go on trial.

He now faces up to 27 months in prison.

Prosecutors say Scaccia lied when he said Crestwood was getting all of its water from Lake Michigan.

But some water was coming from a well that’s tainted with cancer causing chemicals.

Prosecutors say Crestwood officials lied in order to avoid paying to fix leaky water mains.

The village’s former water department supervisor goes on trial later this month.

Advertisement