Questions remain in Hardwick embezzlement case - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Questions remain in Hardwick embezzlement case

Joyce Bellavance Joyce Bellavance

Hardwick, Vermont - November 10, 2010

A utility company servicing northeast Vermont is still recovering from last week's jolting discovery that an employee may have stolen more than a million dollars from the company over the past decade.

Hardwick Electric customers want to know who that employee is. Prosecutors have not yet charged anyone in connection with the missing money. But Electric Commissioner Joe Wood says his office manager, Joyce Bellavance, is on paid leave.

"We've heard indicators that an indictment is coming very soon. It appears to be very clean cut," said Wood.

The power company says it wants to be as transparent as possible about the entire situation. On Wednesday night the commissioner encouraged residents and select board members to ask whatever questions they may have.

"Please ask. Don't be embarrassed. Don't be ashamed and don't coddle us."

Many wondered how this could have happened if regular audits are being done. And who will be held liable?

"This is no longer a Hardwick Electric problem. This is the town of Hardwick's problem," said Marcus Brown, Hardwick Select Board Chair.

The $5.5 million utility is town owned. It doesn't make a profit and it doesn't have investors. But it could be held liable. Although Wood says that's highly unlikely.

"It looks like the insurance company is very eager to settle with us and settle soon."

So the lights will stay on for Hardwick Electric's 4,200 customers as federal investigators sort out who may have stolen a million bucks from them.

Jennifer Reading - WCAX News

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