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New Brunswick suspends 2 water utility employees after criminal investigation

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Two New Brunswick water utility employees were suspended and have received criminal charges due to an ongoing New Brunswick Police Department criminal investigation, reported.

Both men are being charged with official misconduct. William Ortiz is facing an additional bribery charge and Joseph DeBonis is being charged with tampering with public records.

New Brunswick police worked with the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice during the investigation.

In February, former water utility operator Edward O’Rourke was sentenced to three years in prison for falsifying water purity test data. He was charged with second-degree corruption of public resources and third-degree violations of the Safe Water Drinking Act.

O’Rourke falsified more than 200 data samples over a two-year period which might have shown coliform bacteria in New Brunswick’s drinking water. The Department of Environmental Protection was unable to determine if any such bacteria existed within the New Brunswick's supply during that period.

In 2015, New Brunswick broke its contract with American Water after several incidents where the water supply was not properly treated to ensure its cleanliness. 

Concerns about the city's water quality were also brought up at council meetings in 2014. At the time, the New Brunswick City Council chose to replace water filters and membranes, as well as review the water system itself.

Nikhilesh De is the news editor of The Daily Targum. He is a School of Engineering senior. Follow him on Twitter @nikhileshde for more.

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