NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – Ten Sewerage and Water Board employees have been arrested and charged in connection with a scheme to sell brass to local scrap metal yards.
New Orleans Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux’s office teamed up with the Sewerage and Water Board to investigate the brass for cash scheme.
The OIG’s office began the investigation in January of 2016, according to a press release.
“The OIG determined that between January 2013 and June 2016, S&WB employees sold approximately 34,416 pounds of brass to scrap metal yards in the New Orleans area,” the OIG said in the release. “The S&WB purchased these brass fittings at approximately $15.30 a pound which resulted in a loss of $526,565.”
Reforms within the S&WB have been put in place to prevent this type of criminal activity from occurring again. To prevent stolen materials from being sold, all S&WB vendors must emboss items like brass piping with an appropriate S&WB marker to ensure public identification of government property. To more accurately track public resources, S&WB is reviewing its data processing capabilities to better track what assets are being used in every project, according to the report.
None of the 10 workers are still employed with the Sewerage and Water Board.
“Under my leadership, we are building a new S&WB – one that has zero-tolerance for theft of public property or any violation of the public’s trust,” S&WB Executive Director Cedric Grant said in the release. “All individuals involved in this matter have been terminated and will be held to the fullest extent of the law while we pursue financial restitution. As a result of this investigation, we have implemented significant changes to security and logistics to better ensure this type of malfeasance does not occur again.”
“The OIG has repeatedly found in our reports on the Sewerage and Water Board a lack of controls to safeguard the substantial investments of customers and taxpayers,” stated Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux. “We are encouraged by the steps taken by the Sewerage and Water Board to prevent employee theft of metals and we will follow up to measure their effectiveness.”