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Sewage Plant Superintendent Sentenced

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Sewage Treatment  (Miguel Alvarez/AFP/Getty Images)

Sewage Treatment (Miguel Alvarez/AFP/Getty Images)

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PLAINVILLE, CONN. (CBS Connecticut) –Prosecutors say a Waterbury man who formerly served as superintendent of the Plainville wastwater treatment plant has been sentenced to four years in prison for assorted crimes,  including tampering with the alarms at the plant,  causing discharge of sewage into the Pequabuck River.

Prosecutors say 54-year-old Kenneth Michaelson pleaded guilty to 19 felony counts,  including larceny, forgery, evidence-tampering, making false statements and causing pollution to the waters of the state. They say Michelson threatened town employees to deny or lie to police about his actions and the spills they witnessed and were required to clean up.

Judge Arthur Hadden imposed a sentence of ten years in prison,  to be suspended after he has served four years.  He also ordered Michelson to pay restitution,   and not to work in wastewater treatment in the future.

Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane thanked Plainville police and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for their help with the investigation. DEEP Commissioner Dan Esty said the sentence “sends a clear message to environmental polluters that their actions to blatantly ignore environmental laws and regulations are taken seriously in the state of Connecticut and will have real consequences.”

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) _ The former superintendent of Plainville’s sewer plant has been sentenced to four years in prison after being convicted on corruption and other charges.

Kenneth Michelson was sentenced in New Britain Superior Court on Monday.

He had pleaded guilty under the Alford Doctrine to 20 felony charges including larceny, tampering with evidence and other crimes. A defendant who invokes the doctrine does not admit guilt, but concedes the prosecution has enough evidence to convict.

Acting on anonymous letters, police investigated allegations that the 54-year-old Michelson took materials purchased with town money for his own personal use.

He also was accused of forging invoices, stealing a town-owned computer and trying to hide and destroy evidence.

He was placed on administrative leave during the investigation and resigned in 2011.

Authorities also said Michelson filed false reports with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection in 2010 and 2011.

Macky McCleary, a deputy environmental commissioner, said raw sewage spilled into the Pequabuck River, which runs through Plainville, and the effects of the spills reached to the Long Island Sound. The spills created a danger to residents and aquatic life, he said.

Michelson’s actions disregarded public safety, McCleary said.

Dan Esty, commissioner of environmental protection, said the sentence “sends a clear message to environmental polluters that their actions to blatantly ignore environmental laws and regulations are taken seriously.”

Several employees of the sewer plant said Michelson was an arrogant boss and threatened them, though family and friends described him as compassionate.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 

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