PRESCOTT – The case of a former Cottonwood employee who allegedly forged drinking water bacteria results will be handled in Yavapai County Superior Court.
Former Wastewater Operations Foreman Hans Burnett is accused of changing bacterial test results submitted to the state from positive to negative, according to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.
Monday, Burnett appeared in Superior Court in Prescott on one charge of fraudulent schemes and practices and one charge of forgery. The charges are class 5 and class 4 felonies, respectively.
The indictment stems from a 2017 report by the Arizona Department of Health Services, which claims Cottonwood employees “knowingly” submitted inaccurate information on drinking water samples for bacteria.
Burnett is now represented by Flagstaff attorney Adam Zickerman of the Zickerman Law Office. Zickerman requested a continuance to give him time to work on the case.
Judge Tina Ainley granted the continuance. The next hearing will be July 30.
In the last two weeks, the City of Cottonwood has held water forums to address concerns within the community.
In an emailed statement to the Verde Independent, Mayor Tim Elinski said he is “very concerned about the charges from the Attorney General.”
“I am anxious to read the investigation from the Attorney General’s Office,” he wrote. “I have not seen it yet, I will do everything I can with the support of council to make sure we fully understand what occurred and put measures in place to ensure this never happens again, and restore confidence in our community’s water and wastewater system.”
City Manager Doug Bartosh insisted Cottonwood’s drinking water is safe to drink at the June 14 forum.
“It was resampled but proper protocol wasn’t followed,” Bartosh said. “The paperwork wasn’t filled out properly.”