Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

July 20, 2012

Judgment sought against woman in RWD funds theft case

TAHLEQUAH — The Oklahoma Rural Water Association Assurance Group is asking for a judgment of more than $10,000 against a former employee of a Hulbert rural water district.

As a self-insured risk pool that provides liability protection to member rural water districts in the state, ORWAAG is attempting to recover the $10,157.11 Patricia Gassaway is accused of stealing from Rural Water District No. 11 while she worked part-time for the RWD in Hulbert.

ORWAAG’s petition states the group reimbursed the $10,000-plus to RWD No. 11 after prosecutors filed charges against Gassaway, and that the association can now attempt to recover that expense from Gassaway through what is referred to as “subrogation.”

The association also asks for pre-judgment and post-judgment interest, costs, attorney fees, and any other relief the court would allow.

Gassaway was charged in 2010 after the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation filed a report into the alleged embezzlement.

Investigators say Gassaway was one of three employees who could receive payments from customers of the RWD.

The investigation found that, between January and May 2010, $10,157.11 was posted to customers’ accounts, but not deposited into the bank.

The amount was also verified by an independent audit, OSBI investigators said.

Computer records reportedly identified the time and date that each batch was posted to customers’ accounts. Investigators said they examined payroll and other business records of the RWD, and found Gassaway was the only employee who worked on each date that the cash amounts were not deposited into the bank.

In October 2010, Gassaway turned down a request to be interviewed by the OSBI investigators, according to court documents, and instead elected to obtain an attorney. Charges were later filed against her.

The pending felony charge against Gassaway is set to be back before the court on Aug. 20 at 9 a.m.

Gassaway and her husband, Michael Gassaway – who was the RWD’s water manager – filed wrongful termination torts against RWD No. 11 in 2011, each asking for $125,000, or the total covered by insurance, whichever is greater.

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