LAPLACE, LA (WVUE) - St. John the Baptist Parish President Natalie Robottom has responded to the indictment of two water department employees accused of failing to perform important water tests.
"Our employees will go through due process and a determination will be made on the facts that are presented. At this point they are innocent until proven guilty, but the accusation is that the readings were not taken. Any changes to the chlorine levels in the plants are based on the readings," Robottom said.
According to indictment papers between Aug. 1 and Aug. 27, global positioning data shows Kevin Branch did not stop at the point of entry location, the Lyons Water Plant, on at least seven of the 25 days he alleged.
Also, the state says Branch did not stop at the testing location at the end of the water system on at least 13 of the 23 days he alleged. And Danielle Roussel did not stop at testing location at the end of the water system on at least one of the four days she alleged.
Branch's lawyer sent a statement saying the allegations are an egregious form of politics and roussel's lawyer says honest, hardworking parish employees at the lowest level of the totem pole have been scape goated and blamed.
"We got the lowest employees in the entire water system indicted. And now they want the parish to think that we've done something remarkable to improve the water quality in St. John Parish," attorney David Belfield said. "They have not, and the wrong people are being prosecuted in my opinion."
Branch and Roussel are both charged with malfeasance in office and filing or maintaining false public records. The charges each carry up to five years in prison or up to a $5,000 fine.