News Briefs: FBI Investigating Former Water District Employee

In this week’s news briefs, a former Las Vegas Valley Water District employee admits to $4.5M in fraudulent purchases, and the City of Abilene is increasing security measures after thieves steal pumps and pipeline inspection equipment.
News Briefs: FBI Investigating Former Water District Employee

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The Las Vegas Valley Water District confirmed to the Las Vegas Review-Journal that former purchasing analyst Jennifer McCain-Bray is under FBI investigation. The district says McCain-Brain spent $4.5 million of public money on ink jet cartridges that she then sold to a buyer in New Jersey for a cut of the money.

Water district spokesman Bronson Mack estimates tens of thousands of toner cartridges were fraudulently bought and sold. McCain-Bray resigned in December after she admitted to the act, the report says.

McCain-Bray allegedly used the mailing system at the water district’s headquarters to ship the items. She then reportedly concealed the purchases by using different accounts and arranging direct shipments from the vendor instead of going through the water district’s warehouse.

The scheme was uncovered when another employee noticed some unusual purchases and reported them to a manager.

Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal

Thieves Steal $44K Worth of Equipment From Water Utility
The City of Abilene (Texas) Water Utilities Department is increasing security measures after thieves stole $44,000 worth of equipment last month, KTXS-TV reports.

“We had some pumps and camera-type equipment and computers associated with our sewer main cleaning program (taken),” says Director Randy Taylor. “Those are relatively expensive items. Someone had to be looking for those unique items and probably had a place to go with it to market.

“It is disruptive to our normal work routine because some of those things were key parts of our program.”

According to the report, a city worker noticed April 23 that the equipment gate locks had been cut before realizing several items were missing from the yard. The department did not have insurance on the stolen items, Taylor says, and the equipment will be replaced with money from the department’s budget.

Taylor says they will be putting cameras and additional lighting in the location where the equipment was taken from.

Source: KTXS-TV

Oceanside to Spend $2.5M on Emergency Sewer Line Repair
The City of Oceanside (California) City Council unanimously approved funding to repair a section of sewer line along a busy stretch of Oceanside Boulevard. A recent inspection found the pipe could fail at any moment, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

Inspectors for the city, which is in the process of inspecting its sewer system citywide, discovered in February that a 1,000-foot section of the iron pipe had holes on top and tree roots growing in.

“We’re afraid that it’s not going to take the inflow of another rainy season and that it might collapse,” says Amy Czajkowski, a project manager with the city.

According to the report, Oceanside Boulevard carries about 29,000 vehicle trips a day. City officials say they’re still working to come up with a traffic management plan for when the pipe-replacement work begins.

Source: San Diego Union-Tribune

Pennsylvania American Water Acquires Wastewater System
Pennsylvania American Water signed an agreement on May 5 to acquire the wastewater assets of the Borough of New Cumberland, Pennsylvania. The total value of the transaction is about $23 million.

The New Cumberland wastewater system serves about 3,100 customers. Under the purchase agreement, Pennsylvania American Water will not change wastewater rates any earlier than Jan. 1, 2018.

The purchase of the sewer system will enable New Cumberland to eliminate all of its $16 million debt by retiring outstanding bonds within the next three years.

Pennsylvania American Water also committed to invest $2 million in wastewater and water improvements within New Cumberland over the next five years. The company will partner with the borough to identify areas where aging wastewater and water facilities can be replaced in conjunction with street and sidewalk improvements.

Source: press release


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