.

Criminal Investigation Underway Into West Deptford Water and Sewer Department

The state Attorney General's office is investigating possible abuse of power by township employees.

UPDATE, 2:45 p.m.: A spokeswoman for the state attorney general's office on Friday afternoon confirmed the agency is conducting a criminal investigation into West Deptford's Water and Sewer Department. 

"We recieved a referral and it will be reviewed in the appropriate manner," said spokeswoman Rachel Goemaat. 

She declined further comment on the investigation.

_______________________________________

The state attorney general's office is investigating alleged improprieties in the township's Water and Sewer Department, Patch has confirmed.

Investigators with the attorney general's Public Corruption Unit are looking into, among other things, whether certain Water and Sewer Department employees continued to receive water and sewer service at their residences even after their service should have been discontinued. 

A law-enforcement source familiar with the criminal investigation confirmed its specifics to Patch on Friday morning. The source was not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation, and requested anonymity. 

The investigation began sometime after a municipal audit in June found serious discrepancies in the Water and Sewer Department. 

Among the audit's findings regarding the department:

• During an audit of 581 water-sewer utility reading cards, 230 customers were discovered who should have had their service shut off for missed readings. Further procedures performed to ensure that the 230 customers' water was shut off were inconclusive due to poor record keeping by the Township. In addition, of the 230 customers, seven are township employees, four of whom were or are employees of the Water and Sewer Department. One water-sewer employee had only had three actual readings of his or her water meter in the past six years. The audit also found that these readings were conducted by leaving a card at the employee's door and having him or her personally fill in the meter information. This employee was assessed the minimum billing throughout the six years.

• The township's billing system for utilities is outdated, and does not allow for printing of adjusted bills. Adjustments are made manually with a typewriter outside of the utility system. In addition, meter-reading books were recorded in pencil. 

Medford-based accounting firm Holman & Frenia conducted the audit, for fiscal year 2011, when the township was under Democrat control. The audit does not identify any of the employees by name. 

A spokesman for the Attorney General's office could not immediately be reached for comment Friday. 

Republican Mayor Raymond Chintall announced during a township committee meeting Thursday evening that the investigation is being conducted, but he declined to provide any further details. 

Chintall said West Deptford police conducted the initial investigation, but that it was eventually turned over to the Attorney General's office. 

Police Chief Craig Mangano said he was contacted by the Attorney General’s office, which offered to take over the investigation. Mangano said he accepted the offer, but he would not comment on how long the West Deptford police department had been working on the case. 

“It is troubling when possible waste, abuse or even fraud may exist, by those who forget that responsibility of public trust,” Chintall said during the meeting. “In turn, that individual or individuals tarnish the hard working majority, who come to work every day and provide a good public service.”

Chintall said he'd have no further comment because of the ongoing investigation. 

As a proactive measure against similar situations, Committeeman Samuel Cianfarini informed the public Thursday night that a "West Deptford Fraud, Abuse and Waste Hotline" is now established for residents who want to anonymously report any alleged abuse of power by the township‘s government or its employees. 

Residents are urged to call 856-845-4004, ext. 112 to report any alleged government abuse.

Madeline Fucci September 21, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Theft of township services is criminal, illegal and immoral. What is even more reprehensible is a township or county employee whose salary and benefits are paid for by the residents and taxpayers. The only way to discourage this longstanding behavior from repeating itself is by prosecuting all those involved from the persons benefitting from this scam to the supervisors, department and public officials who allowed it to happen since they are equally responsible.
James H September 22, 2012 at 02:00 AM
it only takes one to upset the apple cart.I lived in the township all my life 60 years,and I know the past few years my meter was read only a few times.understand that the previous water meter reader had health issues a lot and never showed up for work.but this is only water,what about the other services that are used for personal gain such as gasoline for private vehicles or a free pass to riverwinds. employees working for a company or local government are easily enticed to bend the rules a little and take what they want as long as they don't get caught. however it's catching up time and this is only the beginning.
Michael Nesbitt September 22, 2012 at 12:15 PM
I would like to leave a message on the fraud hotline about how Sam and Ray booze it up at river winds after every township meeting, drinking for free and not having to pay because of their elected positions, but I am sure they will not investigate themselves.
W.D.78 September 22, 2012 at 12:19 PM
As residends enough is enough,stealing water, gas, tools, and time and no one getting arrested is just plain disturbing.Now these employees are getting paid pretty good and also getting pretty good pensions and the list goes on and on, so maybe we should all stop paying our water bills until this is resolved and see how long it takes until our water is turned off.I would gladly trade a car wash or a free meal for a break on my water bill.What about the poor residents that really can't afford to pay there bill and they actually get there water turned off. How do you think they feel about these crooks getting away with this act for years.
Michael Nesbitt September 22, 2012 at 12:23 PM
I would like to see the email that Sam sent to Kilpatrick claiming he was sent by God to rid WD of corruption. This guy is clearly off his rocker. Will this email be OPRAH requested?
Water Lover September 22, 2012 at 12:34 PM
Michael. Way off point. This email thread is about the water and sewer audit. Do you not know how to read, ADD? Or just couldnt wait to spout off about rediculious meaningless story? Will we see this same comment following a field hockey story? Stay on point moron.
Water Lover September 22, 2012 at 12:35 PM
2 hours. That's the over under on the posting of a comment that the water and sewer audit is a witch hunt.
Dave Sileo September 22, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Mr Nesbitt. I am personally tired of some of the endless silly rhetoric we here from both sides of the aisle. We certainly saw that Thursday night from both sides as several like to march to the microphone just to get a partisan jab in. I can tell you in this instance you are one of the very same. I was at Thursdays meeting. Right after the public portion I walked out and met my wife in the parking lot to have a quick bite at the bar at Riverwinds. I was there until approximately 1030 pm. It just do happens there were several democratic figures there including Mr Shields who I actually bumped into at the bar as my wife and I were leaving. We both said hello and walked out. So I must think Ray and Sam didn't there wild post committee party at Riverwinds. I can substantiate that story. Can you substantiate yours? Perhaps Sam and Ray went to the Mt Royal Inn or something. Yeah, that's it.
Tom Stanton September 22, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Rich... As your point is valid, there are a few points and questions that raise to mind. Our public workers are entrusted with keeping our township running well and efficiently. The more efficient work they do, the less it cost to run the town, in turn less taxes, in turn more attractive to future residents and businesses, and in turn a better community for all, not just one political party or the other. These employees should do what is best for the township they work for and live in; it is the moral thing to do. They are not only under investigation for stealing from their employer, they are under investigation for stealing from us tax payers and their neighbors, friends, and family. You like to crunch the numbers. I would like to know how many township employees there are, and how many employees there are specifically for the Water and Sewer. This will significantly increase the percentage of the 7 township employees and the 4 water department employees. With an educated guess, as where I would hope the water department is not too large, the 4 employees make up a significant portion of the water department employees. Also, I agree with the ridiculous notion that our systems are so antiquated. That raises further questions. How did our township get into so much debt yet we are still using type writers and manual meter reading. I believe this brings the politics into play. Who ran this town for the past 20 or so years?
dclvm September 22, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Dear Mr. James H, at first I was not going to reply to your comment, but I feel I must. I challenge you to go to the township building and inquire as to my attendance record before July 1, 2011 the day of my retirement from the West Deptford Water Deapartment after 32+ years of dedicated service to the township and the people of West Deptford. It is true, I had, and still have health issues with bad knees and on June 4, 2009 I had a total knee replacement which had me out of work for 3.5 months, but from the time I returned to work on September 16, 2009 until the day of my retirement, except for taking off for vacation time I hardly ever took any additional sick time off. So, your comment about me never showing up for work is highly exaggerated.
W.D.78 September 22, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Tom Stanton that is a great post! We are 139 million in debt yet everything is still broke and out dated. So none of the debt went to repairs or getting us into the 21st century, so where did it go. or should the question be who did it go to?
BS detector September 22, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Let get back to the facts, people. I have a rental property that missed several attempts at getting a meter reading. This was during a period of less than 1 year!!! NOT 6 YEARS! I got a letter threatening to shut my water off. Of course, I am not a township employee or related to one!! Therefore, the rules are different. I have listened to the BS for 30 years! Only now are things actually changing. I hope all these employees put some of the money they have stolen safely away. They will need it when they are out on their a--!!!!
Samantha McCall September 22, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Mr. Nesbitt, clearly you cannot defend the actions of these employees who, allegedly, took advantage of the system, so you lower yourself to personal attacks. Grow up, your post is wrong and very inappropriate. Stay on point.
Wayne Klotz September 22, 2012 at 06:11 PM
well here we go again with the show of ray and Sam doing what they do best!! destroying good employees of west deptford
J F Rando September 22, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Rich B., Needless to say you are entitled to your opinion regardless how much it is flawed. There were 581 reading cards involved and of the 581, 230 were a problem that amounts to 39.6%. No need to go any further with your analysis because the issue is of the total homes that are paying there fair share they must also pick up for those 39.6%. Yes the systems is antiquated and should have been modernized. Remember the 581 is only a sampling we do not know if the audit will cover the entire use base. But this is only one issue that prior administrations have not seen fit to correct. It is ashame that you never presented your concerns at a Township meeting. I am sure you will agree that to run an operation in excess of $35 million without a General Ledger is even more scary. The ramifications are staggering and costly. This is not being political by saying that prior administrations are at fault it is placing blame where it belongs.
billy k September 22, 2012 at 06:21 PM
I think we have 7 clues as to who the threatening letters to Chintall are coming from
Another voice September 22, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Wayne, Is it possible that you are truly SERIOUS? "Good" employees do not steal from, or take advantage of, or take unauthorized/non-contracted benefits from, their employers.
Wayne Klotz September 22, 2012 at 06:42 PM
I hope you can prove it ,billy k. cause I would be the first to pour tar and feathers on them wether your dem. or rep.
redneckwillie3 September 22, 2012 at 07:11 PM
maybe GOD is watching over our town because the previous crew were being instructed by SATAN himself .who can be the devil in disguise?
Wayne Klotz September 22, 2012 at 07:49 PM
redneckwiie3, at it again I see. I laugh every time you write your nasty comments about me. at least your listening! west Deptford has the best employees in the whole state. and for ray and his side kick Sam screaming at thief employees is that power went to thief heads. as for ms.dicarlo, I trust her instincts then you and your low and dirty comments!!!!
redneckwillie3 September 22, 2012 at 08:17 PM
mr.klotz.there are thieves in this township .I can't believe that you would stick up for a thief. if they did the crime they gotta do the time brotha. I wouldn't trust that foul language without a CPA license dicarlo if she was a saint from heaven.like you and some of these dem clowns on here you,your dem machine is sinking faster than the Titantic and the fraud and corruption is coming to the surface.not too late to swing over klutzie
Wayne Klotz September 22, 2012 at 08:28 PM
with or without a CPA license, can you do better , GENIOUS?
Jason Wilson September 22, 2012 at 08:45 PM
You are wrong Nesbitt, Sam and Ray are at the Colonial Bar boozing in this picture not RiverWinds!
Wayne Klotz September 22, 2012 at 09:15 PM
looks like ray is telling Sam to be quiet and let me do the talking, then we will have a drink. lots of it.
redneckwillie3 September 22, 2012 at 09:16 PM
she's a liar and a crook just like her backer Andrews. I am a genius i'm glad you acknowledge that. your the one that's spewing at the mouth about what are present day committeemen are doing but your tongue was silent during the docimo regime. come wayne throw the towell in your fightin a losin battle. and when they go to riverwinds i pick up the tab wayne. now respond wayne i let you get the last dig in wayne.ok wayne it's all urs wayne step up to the plate wayne
Wayne Klotz September 22, 2012 at 09:25 PM
redneckwillie3: shoes on the other foot. you guys do not like now !! instead of GENIOUS how about LOSER? HIT A NERVE,PEOPLE !!!
Wayne Klotz September 23, 2012 at 03:03 PM
like I said before, you and the republicans are like little kids who should be seen and not heard!! GO EAGLES!!
Wayne Klotz September 23, 2012 at 03:48 PM
I hope you can bring this to us with probe before you ruin somebody's reputation!!
Wayne Klotz September 23, 2012 at 07:17 PM
they won't or cann't answer that because they donn't know themselves. but I bet you it's somebody running for office!!
Lauren Burgoon September 23, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Readers, The comments are now closed on this article. This is not the place -- indeed no place on Patch is -- to make unfounded allegations about people. If you feel there is a story we're overlooking, please email westdeptford@patch.com. Otherwise, such posts won't be tolerated.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something