Workers at the Fresenius Medical Care clinic in West Columbia discovered the contaminated water before anyone was hurt. A monthlong investigation led deputies to Donald Foster III, who has been charged with attempted murder and second-degree burglary.
Foster was suspended from his job as an equipment technician and patient care technician on July 2, but he came back less than a week later and tainted the water, police said.
“He had planned to carry out a mass murder in order to get back at his employer,” Lexington County Sheriff James Metts said.
Foster poured bleach into tanks that hold the purified water used to filter waste from the bodies of 20 patients, hoping the deaths from his sabotage would bankrupt the firm, police said.
His bond was set Thursday at $525,000, and he remained in jail. The 49-year-old single parent asked a judge to let him out of jail because he needs to take care of his 5-year-old daughter.
“This is all a misunderstanding, really,” Foster said, speaking from behind a mesh-covered opening behind a locked door.
Foster’s lawyer asked for a reasonable bond, and declined to talk about the case after the hearing. Authorities asked for as high of a bond as possible, but did not give a specific amount. They said Foster was a flight risk with no regard for the lives of other people.
Foster faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted of both charges.
Foster was suspended because he was trying to get elderly patients to give him their prescription painkillers, Metts said