The Nye County District Attorney’s office will not seek prosecution of former Valley Electric Inc. CEO Angela Evans.
“My chief deputy and I carefully reviewed the entire file, consulted with experts and made a field trip to look at the site in question,” said Nye County District Attorney Chris Arabia, in a Monday interview. “Based on our thorough review, we decided not to prosecute Evans.”
Evans was arrested at the end of February for suspicion of embezzlement of $3,500 or more over accusations that she billed the co-op $75,000 for work on her personal residence in Pahrump. The alleged work done on Evans’ Pahrump home was to move power lines underground.
Evans was arrested on suspicion of embezzlement on Feb. 26 after a search warrant was executed by the Nye County Sheriff’s Office at the co-op’s administrative offices at 800 E. Highway 372.
Just days before that warrant was served, the sheriff’s office announced the launch of an investigation into Valley Electric. The sheriff’s office had executed a search warrant on Feb. 22 over allegations that “hush money” was paid to current and former executives of the co-op to keep quiet about former CEO Thomas Husted’s alleged sexual harassment of a female employee.
The sheriff’s office was contacted for this report but did not respond before the publication deadline of this article.
The launch of the sheriff’s office investigation gave traction to a movement to remove Valley Electric’s board of directors at that time by a group known as VEA Members for Change.
Members for Change had launched their efforts in February through a signature-petition drive, to remove all of Valley’s board members at that time. At the time of the launch, leadership of the members’ group stated that they began the drive over increases on residential electricity rates and on broadband prices.
Over the last several months, all of Valley’s six directors who were on the board at that time have either resigned or retired for various reasons.
Peter Gazsy, former District 1 (Pahrump south) director for Valley, resigned facing a recall election in May. Former District 4 (Fish Lake Valley) director John Maurer also could have faced a recall election but had already announced his retirement and left the co-op. Maurer had left a few weeks prior to the end of his term, citing family issues in the spring of 2019 and was not seeking re-election.
Valley Electric officials have maintained that there was no wrongdoing on Evans’ part in multiple interviews over the last several months.
Former Valley Electric Association Inc. Interim CEO Dick Peck said in previous interviews that an outside investigation done for Valley on Evans earlier in 2019 found nothing to indicate any illegal activity was done on Evans’ part.
“I was in the board room when the special investigator went through the report on the timeline and on the line items, and he could find nothing in his investigation that would indicate any illegal activities went on in regard to the actions,” Peck said in a May 17 report in the Pahrump Valley Times. “She was not either directly or indirectly involved in the decision-making process.”
Evans was put on paid administrative leave following her February arrest until early July when Valley’s board of directors announced she was no longer with the co-op.
Attempts to contact Evans have been unsuccessful.
Evans was the only person arrested since the launch of the sheriff’s office investigation. She was named the permanent CEO of the co-op in October 2018, just months before her arrest.
Evans took over as interim CEO of the co-op in May 2018 following Husted’s sudden retirement.
Husted was never arrested or charged with a crime surrounding the sheriff’s office investigation.
The co-op had also faced scrutiny over their use of funds following the sale of the co-op’s 230-kilovolt transmission system for over $200 million at the end of 2017.
In previous interviews, Peck also denied the allegations surrounding “hush money” paid to current and former employees.
“One of the other things I’d like to state, too, that 2018 was a forensic audit and the final audit was done this last February,” he said in May 27, 2019 report in the Pahrump Valley Times. “There was nothing in that audit that caught my attention or the auditor’s attention about any illegal activities by the prior manager, Tom Husted.”
Peck said in that report that “there’s nothing in the audit that would support any of the allegations of hush money paid” in that report.
A representative from Texas-based accounting firm Bolinger, Segars, Gilbert and Moss LLP, the firm that conducted the audit, spoke during Valley’s annual meeting at the end of April.
Reading directly from the firm’s opinion of Valley’s financial statements, David Copeland, partner at Bolinger, stated, “In our opinion, the consolidated financial statements referred to, present fairly in all material respects to the financial position of Valley Electric Association Inc. and subsidiaries as of Dec. 31, 2018 and 2017 and the results of the consolidated operations and cash flows… We issued a clean opinion on those financial statements, which is unmodified.”
Since Husted’s departure from the co-op, six individuals have held the CEO position on either a permanent, interim or acting basis, or designated to take the role, in roughly 18 months.
Mark Stallons, a 30-year industry veteran, is set to start working at the co-op in early January.
Terrie D’ Antonio, Valley’s District 5 director and interim CEO. D’ Antonio has been working in the interim CEO position since Peck departed the co-op at the end of October.
A Valley Electric spokeswoman declined comment for this article.
Contact reporter Jeffrey Meehan at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @MeehanLv
At a glance
- Valley Electric Association, Inc. (VEA) is a member-owned nonprofit electric utility headquartered in Pahrump.
- While VEA started as a small rural electric utility in 1965, the company now provides electric service to more than 45,000 people (18,000 member-consumers) within a vast 6,800-square-mile service area located primarily along the California-Nevada line, with the majority in Nevada.
- Valley Communications Association (VCA), a wholly-owned subsidiary of VEA, began providing high-speed communications to our member-owners in the spring of 2016.
- VEA’s service area starts in Sandy Valley, southwest of Las Vegas, and extends north for more than 250 miles to Fish Lake Valley. For more information about VEA, visit www.vea.coop
Source: Valley Electric Association