Water probe results in seven employee firings, suspension

Sunday Times Newspapers
LINCOLN PARK — An ongoing investigation of theft by employees in the city’s Water Department resulted in the firing of seven employees Monday.
They were alleged to have altered their home meters to avoid paying for substantially less water than they used over the course of several years.
According to published reports, Department of Public Services employees John Clemente, Brian Dailey, Brian Depalma, Glen Ray, Dennis Stol, Charles Taylor II and John Werksma Jr. were terminated Monday.
Stol was the Water Department’s team leader, and was second in command there to Ronald Depalma Jr., who resigned last month and is the brother of Brian Depalma.
A meter reader, Freddie Johnson, was suspended without pay for an undisclosed length of time.
All of the employees were DPS members and were suspended with pay as of July 22. They were members of the Government Employee Labor Council, a union that represents some supervisory and management personnel, or the Technical, Professional and Officeworkers Association of Michigan, which represents some civilian employees.
The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office still is awaiting results of the local investigation before pursuing any criminal charges.
Nine water meters were confiscated by the city from the homes of Department of Public Services employees since the probe began, and new meters have been installed in their place.
The losses were discovered earlier this year as officials were in the process of looking at possibly replacing all of the city’s old water meters with new ones.
City Manager Steve Duchane said originally that the losses could be in the tens of thousands of dollars, but recently revised that estimate to possibly in the hundreds of thousands.
City officials still are unsure how far back the thefts date.