The investigation into several executives, the board of directors, and possibly others at Valley Electric Association over an alleged cover-up of sexual misconduct by former CEO Thomas Husted has led to an arrest.
Angela Evans, who was named CEO of Valley Electric in October 2018, was arrested on Tuesday and booked into the Nye County Detention Center for embezzlement of $3,500 or more.
Allegations include that Evans billed $75,000 worth of work done at her personal residence in Pahrump to the co-op. Evans was not the CEO of the co-op at the time the alleged work orders were dated, based on past news releases from the cooperative and information in a search warrant’s accompanying affidavit. That warrant was executed at Valley Electric on Feb. 26 when Evans was taken into custody.
Valley announced the retirement of Thomas Husted on May 4, 2018. In that same release, Evans was noted as taking over as interim CEO.
Evans joined Valley Electric in 2017 as executive vice president of operations of the co-op. She also has served as acting chief operating officer and named interim CEO in May 2018.
According to Mike Hengel, vice president of corporate communications for the co-op, Evans is currently on administrative leave pending an investigation. The investigation will be conducted by an outside, third-party firm, he added.
Valley Electric Association’s Chief Financial Officer, Steve Morrison, has been named acting chief executive of Valley by the board of directors, according to Hengel.
Valley also released a statement on Wednesday about the investigation.
In the release, it was stated that “regarding recent events involving Valley Electric Association, we would like to assure members that VEA will cooperate fully and transparently with authorities. VEA regrets the current circumstances, and we have initiated our own internal investigation. We remain committed to our members. Services will not be affected.”
Evans posted bail of $5,000 on Feb. 26, according to officials at Pahrump Justice Court.
Evans has been the only Valley employee arrested in the investgation.
A court appearance is scheduled for Evans on April 29 at 9 a.m. at the Pahrump Justice Court.
Attempts by the Pahrump Valley Times to interview Husted and Evans have been unsuccessful.
Following a search warrant execution for financial and administrative records at Valley Electric on Feb. 22, the Nye County Sheriff’s Office announced in a video news release more on the office’s reasoning for the warrant.
In a video release, Nye County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Adam Tippetts stated that “the warrant stems from an investigation into allegations that former CEO Thomas Husted had sexually harassed a female employee and that Valley Electric key management were paid in exchange for not disclosing the sexual misconduct.”
Husted left the co-op in early May 2018, according to a news release from Valley at that time. Evans was named the interim CEO of the co-op and was later named into the position permanently in October 2018.
Tippetts said in a video release that “it is suspected that the financial payouts may have contributed to the recently announced Valley Electric rate hikes.”
Valley announced a 9 percent rate increase for residential customers and implemented a $5 adjustment to the co-op’s basic service charge, increasing it from $15 to $20, information in news releases from Valley stated.
The accompanying affidavit in the Feb. 22 search warrant revealed some of the investigation into Valley.
In that affidavit, past Valley employees confirmed that Husted had sexually harassed a female employee.
“These interviews provided information substantiating the allegations that this female employee had been sexually harassed by Thomas Husted, and that Thomas Husted had been brought in, received a severance and is no longer the CEO,” the document stated.
The document continued, stating that the employees interviewed “acknowledged that they had received payment and signed nondisclosure agreements.”
Through interviews with these ex-employees and a member of the community, the amount of cooperative monies used as “hush money” to keep Husted’s sexual misconduct quiet was in excess of $1 million, according to information in the affidavit.
The affidavit also stated that “these interviews also revealed that Angela Evans, the replacement CEO, additionally received substantial payment and was involved in the handling of payments and nondisclosure agreements to the other employees. These interviews also revealed that Angela Evans was also paramount in ensuring that the information of this misconduct was not leaked.”
The Nye County Sheriff’s office executed a second search warrant at Valley Electric’s administrative offices on Feb. 26.
During the execution of the Feb. 26 search warrant by the sheriff’s office, Evans was arrested and booked into the Nye County Detention Center for embezzlement, the sheriff’s office reported.
The sheriff’s office is alleging that Evans had work done on her personal residence in the Winery area and billed the co-op for that work.
“During the course of this investigation, a source came to the Nye County Sheriff’s Office investigators and advised that CEO Angela Evans had Valley Electric do approximately $89,000 worth of work at her home to move her power lines underground,” according to the video release. “It is alleged that she billed the work to Valley Electric.”
The source said the work was done in April 2018, “and was able to provide work order information and names of Valley Electric employees who knew of the work being done,” according to the release.
In an accompanying affidavit to the Feb. 26 search warrant executed at Valley Electric, it’s stated that two work orders were brought to investigators from the sheriff’s office.
The work orders were dated from March and April 2018 according to the affidavit, just before the announcement of Husted’s retirement.
“Nye County Sheriff’s Office investigators interviewed a Valley Electric employee who confirmed that the work was done, but was unable to confirm how the work was paid for,” according to the video release.”
“A check of public records revealed an address of a home owned by Angela Evans in the Winery area of Pahrump. Nye County Sheriff’s Office investigators went to the property on Feb. 26 and took photographs,” the video release stated. “Her property is the only residence on the block that does not have power lines along the back easement of the property.”
“The Nye County Sheriff’s Office executed a second search warrant on Valley Electric on Feb. 26. The warrant requested electronic records of any and all work orders for CEO Angela Evans’ residence. After execution of the search warrant, the records identified that the cost of the work, valued at approximately $75,000, was not paid for by Angela Evans but was billed to the Valley Electric cooperative,” the release stated.
The sheriff’s office is asking anyone with information in the investigations to contact investigators at 775-751-7000 or email email@example.com
Tippetts stated in a video release that “Although many people may have signed the nondisclosure agreements, this has now become a criminal investigation. And as a witness in criminal proceedings, you are entitled to protections pursuant to law.”
The sheriff’s office stated in its video press release following the execution of the first warrant that the next update from the sheriff’s office is expected March 10. A news conference is planned for March 22, though the date and location are yet to be determined.
A movement to remove the current board of directors at Valley by members in the Pahrump area has gotten underway in recent weeks. The group has held several petition-signing events and is looking to gain about 1,800 signatures.
The group will set up from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday (today) at Trish Rippie Realty at 3370 S. Highway 160, Suite 1, where Valley’s member-owners can sign the petition to remove the current board.
The group will also set up from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday at the swap meet at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Pahrump at 4651 Homestead Road.
For more on this effort, head to the group’s Facebook page: VEA Members for Change. Look for an upcoming story in the Pahrump Valley Times on this movement.
Contact reporter Jeffrey Meehan at firstname.lastname@example.org
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