Madison utilities superintendent accused of using company equipment, time for building personal house
MADISON, Neb. -- A northeast Nebraska utilities superintendent is accused of misusing municipal equipment and resources, according to the state auditor’s office.
In a 12-page letter issued Friday, the auditor’s office addressed city concerns about James Lewis, Madison's Utilities Superintendent.
According to a report, Lewis was using municipal equipment and resources for personal use while on the clock for the city.
The APA said there were allegations that Lewis was using city resources to build a house on property that he owns. Lewis was approved by the city to build the house in September 2020.
It was reported that he was doing this work during his regular work hours, for which he got paid for by the city.
Pictures from June 2022 were also provided with the complaints, according to officials. All of the images were date and timestamped, showing that he was working on the construction while on the clock for the city.
In September 2022, officials said that a city official interviewed Lewis and several of his subordinates about the misuse of municipal equipment, personnel, and resources.
The APA said that according to the official summary from interviews, an employee said that they, and all of the city's full time personnel, had worked on Lewis' house.
Some of the work included building walls with city equipment and storing those in the city's shop.
According to the report, the employee also said that they used the city's truck to pick up wood and other supplies for Lewis' house.
APA said that other employees reported working on Lewis' house on their own time, and doing minimal work while on the clock for the city.
It was reported that Lewis had later asked the employees to lie about working on his house.
Lewis also reportedly made personal purchases while on company time, either making the purchases himself or through his employees, at Menards in Norfolk and Columbus.
While all of the purchases happened while Lewis and his employees were on the clock, he did not charge them to the city's charge account between March 2021 and November 2022. These charges totaled over $5,500.
On Apr. 13, 2022, according to yhr auditor, there was a city purchase made at Menards followed by a personal purchase that was confirmed to be made by an employee on Lewis' behalf for his personal project.
It was noted that the auditor's office looked through the purchase records at Menards and they found that more than $530 was spent resulting in almost $60 worth of rebates. The rebates were issued to Lewis' wife, resulting in the direct benefit of the rebates that belonged to the city, according you the auditor's office.
The auditor stated that the City Treasurer noted speaking with Lewis about a citizen complaining that he was working on his house during the work day.
Lewis reportedly responded by saying it was none of their business.