Pencil-Whipped: Inspector who falsified hog lagoon tests found guilty

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The ethical quagmire in this story stinks worse than the hog lagoons themselves:

After a State Bureau of Investigation probe, Houston pleaded guilty to 28 counts of falsifying records, a Class 2 misdemeanor. Yesterday Superior Court Judge Henry L. Stevens, IV, sentenced Houston to two consecutive sentences of 30 days in jail, which were suspended. Houston is on supervised probation for 12 months, must pay a $500 fine plus court costs, and complete 50 hours of community service.

The judge also prohibited Houston from sampling lagoons or doing bookkeeping in the swine industry other than for his family farm.

First of all...could you not find somebody else for the job who wasn't also a hog farmer? Forget about his side-job for a moment; the dude was regulating his competition. As to that "side-job," he wasn't moonlighting, he was daylighting. Charging people for his work, while also drawing a salary from taxpayers. About that headline ^ above: when I was in the military, we had to document *everything*. Equipment inspections, weapons usage, disciplinary actions, you name it. "Pencil-whipping" is when somebody fails to (or forgets to) do something, but signs off that it was done to cover their ass. Sad story continues:

But, as his criminal pleadings revealed, Houston admitted to an SBI investigator that he falsified the testing records. The Duplin Times story reports that Houston told the investigator that he “would pull all of his samples from two or three different lagoons that were in good working condition and submit them as if they had been pulled from all of the lagoons.”

“Houston indicated that he had started out just trying to help out farmers in his area,” the story went on, “but had gotten overwhelmed with his full-time job with Duplin County and his part-time job of collecting samples. Houston further claimed to be helping his father-in-law who had significant health issues. Houston admitted that he was wrong and that ‘he had been stretched too thin and messed up.’”

Falsfiying this information can have serious consequences for farmers and the drinking water supply. The lagoons — which contain hog feces, urine, dander, feed, as well as water used to flush the confinement barns — must be periodically sampled, according to state permits, in order to measure levels of nitrogen, phosphorous and heavy metals before the material can be applied to spray fields.

Generally when you "help people out" you don't charge them for it. That's called something else, and that something else turns to fraud when you charge them for something you never did. Sheesh.

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