Former Cottonwood Employee Pleads Guilty to Damaging Utility Property

COTTONWOOD – Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced former City of Cottonwood employee Hans Burnett was sentenced to three years probation, 120 hours of community service, and 60 days of deferred jail time after he pleaded guilty to one count of Criminal Damage in connection with his previous work as a foreman at the City of Cottonwood Water Testing Laboratory in 2016.

Burnett instructed his subordinate employees to modify test results and rewrite the paperwork associated with Cottonwood drinking water compliance samples. The altered results were submitted to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) as part of the Cottonwood laboratory’s drinking water compliance obligations. Coliform is a category of bacteria that drinking water quality rules require be tested for on a regular basis. No one is known to have been sickened as a result of the altered test results.

The Arizona Department of Health Services alerted ADEQ after they discovered the issue at the City of Cottonwood lab. ADEQ sent inspectors to the public water systems and collected water samples. Analysis of samples is now ongoing through a separate lab. ADEQ continues to monitor the data submitted from water samples.

Burnett was sentenced Monday afternoon in Yavapai County Superior Court. 

Assistant Attorney General Adam J. Schwartz prosecuted this case.