Accusations that a former employee of the Mid-Peninsula Water District embezzled more than $250,000 from the special tax district more than a year ago are still being investigated, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.
The district sent the DA’s office a pile of evidence last March related to former employee Cathy Remeleh, who allegedly wrote checks to herself over a lengthy period.
"We are hoping that the investigation will be complete within 30 days,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti wrote the Daily Journal in an email yesterday.
The district, which mostly serves Belmont, has had extensive audits and has put new controls in place the past year to make sure a similar incident never happens again, board President Al Stuebing told the Daily Journal yesterday.
"We understand it’s the public’s money and we have made a lot of progress,” Stuebing said.
In the meantime, Paul Regan, the district’s former general manager, has retired and has been replaced by Tammy Rudock, who was named general manager of the agency in January.
The district was insured, Stuebing said, and has already received payment that covers the loss.
In late 2011, the district identified financial irregularities that caused it to engage in a forensic audit of its financial records.
The results of the forensic audit were then forwarded to the DA’s office.
The discrepancies in the books were discovered after Remeleh, the agency’s former administrative service manager, took a leave of absence from the agency before Christmas 2011.
Her interim replacement allegedly found a stack of checks hidden away in a filing cabinet that were all made out to Remeleh, according to an anonymous source who shared the story with the Daily Journal early last year.
Remeleh’s daughter, Sara Abou-Remeleh, also previously worked at the agency part time but was allegedly let go after the discrepancies were discovered.
Mid-Peninsula Water District is a local government agency that provides water to 28,000 homes in Belmont, parts of San Carlos, parts of Redwood City and parts of unincorporated San Mateo County. It has an annual budget of about $8.5 million through its operations and is served by a five-person elected board of directors. It collects about $180,000 annually in local property taxes.
Remeleh, a 53-year-old Castro Valley resident, worked at the agency for more than a decade.
The San Mateo Local Agency Formation Commission completed a municipal service review and sphere of influence review of the Mid-Peninsula Water District in March 2011. The LAFCo review suggested the agency be transferred either to privately-owned California Water Service Company or become a subsidiary of the city of Belmont to achieve savings in providing water to its customers by eliminating redundant administration and governance in overlapping areas. Cal Water provides service to San Mateo, South San Francisco and most of San Carlos.
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