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Two accused in bogus water test scheme

The men charged five cities for tests that they never performed, authorities say.

By Times staff writers

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 14, 2000

Two men were arrested Thursday on charges that they took money from local cities to test the cities' water for dangerous chemicals but never actually performed the tests.

The cities of Tarpon Springs, Dunedin, Port Richey, Dunnellon and Wildwood were notified of the fraud and were advised to have their water retested, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Cities must get their water tested for chemicals to comply with federal and state clean water laws. FDLE agents said more than 250 water samples never were tested and the two men instead created false reports.

Babatunde Daramola, 52, of 15293 Mystic Way in Carrollwood, and Martin Kwesi Sakyiamfo, 41, of 13143 Village Chase Circle in Carrollwood, each are charged with racketeering. They were being held in the Hillsborough County Jail. Daramola's bail was set at $25,000 and Sakyiamfo's was set at $50,000.

Daramola and Sakyiamfo were associated with three Tampa-area laboratories that tested water for cities, mobile-home parks and businesses in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando, Citrus and Sumter counties, the FDLE said.

Daramola was vice president of Tri-County and Sakyiamfo was the registered agent for Chemlab, according to state records. Both companies are now defunct. The third company, Erejan Environmental Laboratory, has its headquarters at Daramola's home, records show.

The cities and businesses were defrauded of about $20,000, FDLE agents said, and water users' health may have been put at risk if hazardous chemicals were missed because of the fraud.

Daramola previously was charged with contempt of court in September 1996. Sakyiamfo was charged with third-degree grand theft, a felony, by University of South Florida police in November 1994.

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