Niday’s attorney, John Greer, of Spencer, Iowa, said he did not know what the motive was. There was no financial gain for Niday, who Greer said found out that Schwarte had been manipulating the test results but did not stop the practice.
“He looked the other way,” Greer said. “He just said he should have put his foot down and said no.”
Under the federal sentencing guidelines, a formula that takes several factors into account, Niday could have had a prison sentence of 30-37 months.
Strand cited Niday’s lack of a criminal record as a factor in deciding to sentence him below the guidelines. Strand said he doubted Niday would be in trouble again. The sentence also was more in line with the one given to Schwarte, a plant shift supervisor whom Strand sentenced in November to two years probation and a $5,000 fine for the same two charges as Niday.
No other individuals have been charged, though court documents say that at least five other plant workers were involved in a process in which they were instructed by Niday and Schwarte to raise chlorine levels added to wastewater on days that E. coli samples were taken, producing test samples showing plant discharges met federal limits for levels of fecal coliform and E. coli before they were discharged into the Missouri River.
Once the samples were taken, chlorine added to the wastewater was reduced to minimal levels, leading to the discharge of water containing high levels of E. coli and potentially endangering public health and fish and water organisms.