The Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District has launched a lawsuit against its former management company, CH2M to recover funds embezzled by Rebecca Sigeti, former bookkeeper for the district and subcontractor to CH2M.
For five years, Sigeti shuttled financial records between PSWID and Sunny Mountain Realty. Her alleged scam resulted in the theft of $524,686 from PSWID customers.
A grand jury indicted Sigeti on 40 counts of theft, misuse of public monies, fraudulent schemes, computer tampering, money laundering and forgery.
She has had several hearings, but her court-appointed attorney continues to ask for delays due to the complexity of the case.
According to court minutes, Sigeti might be paying restitution, but the state does not have any agreement with her.
“Until a conviction, she is not required to pay restitution,” said Mary Harriss, the prosecutor from the attorney general’s office.
When the auditor general put out a report on its investigation into Sigeti’s scheme, it laid part of the blame for the embezzlement on a lack of clear accounting standards for PSWID.
The board says it has now fixed the problem.
“Since discovery of the missing funds, the district has revised its accounting and oversight procedures in accordance with recommendations from the Arizona Auditor General,” wrote the PSWID board.
The board has also terminated its contract with CH2M.
Now PSWID seeks restitution from the consulting company through the lawsuit.
“(PSWID) ... has authorized its legal counsel, Mr. Riley Snow, to proceed with formally filling a claim and any necessary legal action against the firm CH2M to recover funds allegedly misappropriated ....” wrote the PSWID board in a press release.
“PSWID has made several attempts to recoup the misappropriated funds from CH2M, with no successful resolution,” the board wrote. “The action taken by the board at the special (June 7) meeting authorized formal legal action on behalf of the district as it was determined to be the next step to recover PSWID losses.”
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