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Utility Worker Framed Colleague by Contaminating Water

A chemist at the city water treatment plant in Billings, Montana basically had the summer from hell.

Do you ever have one of those weeks at work where you feel like you just can’t do anything right?

Well, a chemist at the city water treatment plant in Billings, Montana basically had the summer from hell in 2015. From May to September, Katie Hendrickson experienced a baffling trend: during routine testing, her water samples were repeatedly registering as being contaminated.

Hendrickson had so many bad tests that she enlisted her supervisors to oversee her testing method. The plant’s team even reached out to the manufacturer of the testing equipment, in an attempt to troubleshoot the issue. When no one could identify the problem, they began to think that the consistent contamination might be intentional.

One day, after Hendrickson left her water samples unattended at her workstation for a short period of time, she returned to find a white powder on the rim of the container. Supervisors installed hidden cameras that soon thereafter busted her colleague tampering with the water.

Michelle Henderson-Butler, one of the plant’s other two chemists, was placed on administrative leave, and later quit. The contamination of the water testing procedures had reportedly cost the city of Billings thousands of dollars in unnecessary repeat tests, as well as for new lab equipment purchases. But worst of all, the city actually failed its state certification test.

Henderson-Butler was finally arrested and charged with a crime a few weeks back – felony tampering with public records or information – and is facing a maximum punishment of ten years in prison and a $50,000 fine. Henderson-Butler was unable to explain her actions.

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