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Ex-officials indicted in Ill. water investigation

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August 11, 2011 06:34 PM EST | AP

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CHICAGO — Two former water department officials have been indicted in an investigation of a Chicago suburb that for decades drew drinking water from a tainted well, federal prosecutors announced Thursday.

Frank Scaccia and Theresa Neubauer face multiple counts of lying to regulators over 20 years about piping in the polluted water to supplement Crestwood's supply from Lake Michigan, the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago said.

Neubauer, 53, is currently Crestwood's police chief and formerly worked as the water department's clerk and supervisor. Scaccia, 59, is the retired certified water operator for the south suburban village of around 11,000 residents.

Messages left for Scaccia at his Crestwood home and at Neubauer's office weren't immediately returned Thursday. Messages for Scaccia's lawyer, Bill Seith, and Neubauer's attorney, Tom Breen, also were not returned.

The Chicago Tribune revealed in 2009 that Crestwood used the contaminated water until 2007 – apparently to save money – even after environmental officials warned in the mid-1980s that cancer-causing chemicals had oozed into the well.

The indictment also accuses Scaccia and Neubauer of telling residents in annual consumer reports that the village's only source of drinking water was Lake Michigan when they allegedly knew that wasn't true.

The indictment repeatedly mentions an unnamed elected public official as working with Scaccia and Neubauer on drinking water issues. It only refers to the person as "Public Official A."

A 2010 report from the Illinois Department of Public Health found that cancer rates were higher than average in Crestwood, though it stopped short of making a definite link between the elevated rates and the tainted water.