AG Shapiro: Falsified Berks and Lancaster Drinking Water Reports Put Health of Community at Risk

Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the arrest of the owner of a Berks County construction company for falsifying lab reports for water samples following the installation of new water mains in Berks and Lancaster Counties. Matthew Barrasso, 43, of Mohnton, was charged with Tampering with Public Records, violating the Safe Drinking Water Act, Forgery, and Unsworn Falsification.

This case was referred to the Office of Attorney General by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. In June 2017, the defendant’s company, Barrasso Excavation, Inc., replaced a water main in Wyomissing Borough. The complaint alleges that Barrasso changed lab results to indicate that samples from the water main were negative for total coliform and E. coli. Relying on these results, Wyomissing connected the new water main to the Wyomissing distribution system that served approximately 40 residential connections. Barrasso also allegedly engaged in the same conduct in Quarryville, Lancaster County.

“Pennsylvanians have a constitutional right to pure water—and I will do everything in my power to defend that right,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “This defendant recklessly changed lab results to lie about the quality of the drinking water for dozens of households, putting the health and wellbeing of those citizens at risk. I’m grateful for the hard work of my Office’s Environmental Crimes Section to hold the defendant accountable and protect the drinking water of the people of Berks and Lancaster Counties.”

The Office of Attorney General has made it a priority to investigate and prosecute environmental crimes, including those that violate the Safe Drinking Water Act. In February 2019, Attorney General Shapiro filed 161 criminal charges against the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority for failing to notify residents when the agency replaced lead water lines – creating health risks for affected households.

The charges were filed before Magisterial District Judge Steven Chieffo in Berks County District Court. The case is being prosecuted by Chief Deputy Attorney General Rebecca Franz.