Lubbock city workers charged with over $100,000 in brass theft
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Three City of Lubbock Water Utility employees and two others were arrested and charged with theft on Wednesday.
After a two-month investigation, police believe the three employees stole more than $100,000 worth of brass fittings from the water department over several years and used two others to sell the brass for profit.
The three employees: Romauldo Guerrero, 36; Juan Carlos Sanchez, 25; and Jesus Flores, 25, are all charged with first degree felony theft, an upgraded charge because they work for the city and are considered public servants.
Nasaria Martinez, 22, and her common law husband, Fernando Marin, are also charged with theft of more than $20,000 but less than $100,000.
A 20-page arrest warrant released Wednesday provides an in depth timeline describing the two month investigation that led to the five arrests.
Starting on March 6th police were investigating a copper theft case at Jarvis Metals when an employee asked investigators to look at a couple, Marin and Martinez, who had been bringing in brand new brass fittings for over a year.
Two days after the investigation started, investigators were able to trace the brass fittings to the City of Lubbock's Water Department, who had no idea the parts were being stolen. The warrant states and employee told them the city was the "only entity within 200 miles that would use a part like that". It goes on to state "Once parts were inventoried upon arrival they are stocked in shipping containers outside where there is no accountability process for the parts whatsoever". In fact, employees could simply go in and out taking parts they needed for jobs.
One week into the investigation, detectives received a warrant to put a GPS tracker on the pickup Martinez and Marin were using to drop off the brass meter fittings at Jarvis. For about a month police watched their every move, and within that time the couple made five sales of the brass to Jarvis.
Finally on April 10th police approached Martinez and Marin about the brass they were selling. Marin told police "someone had been giving them brass for a while to sell on their behalf".
Martinez refused to talk with investigators, and it turns out her brother is Guerrero, a city employee.
After several interviews, all three employees denied they were taking the new brass fittings to sell. However, Marin told police that for years Guerrero, Flores and Sanchez would give him and Martinez buckets of brass fittings to sell to Jarvis. They would then give the profits to the men and keep $20 for each drop off.
Once the city was made aware of the theft they began an internal investigation, and determined that from 2010 to 2012 the city's loss was estimated at more than $108,600.
Just days after the investigation began, city of Lubbock employees informed police that they are now using ultraviolet stamps on all their brass parts. The city also released this statement: "The City of Lubbock is conducting an internal investigation into the charges and will take any appropriate action regarding these employees when the investigation is complete."
The City terminated two of the three employees on Friday.
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