Former New Madrid city employee accused of electricity theft

Former New Madrid city employee accused of electricity theft
Published: Feb. 26, 2016 at 8:08 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 26, 2016 at 10:56 PM CST
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NEW MADRID COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - A former city employee in New Madrid, Missouri was arrested after allegedly stealing thousands of dollars of electricity from the city since late 2013.

Jonathan W. Riggs was charged with a class C felony after being accused of stealing electricity from the city of New Madrid.

Riggs is a former employee of the City of New Madrid's line crew.

It is believed Riggs consumed 45,102 kWh of unreported electricity at a cost of $2,556.83 between September 1, 2013 and February 18, 2016.

According to a probable cause statement, the New Madrid Police Department started investigating on February 18 after City Administrator Richard McGill reported the alleged activity to police.

City employee Dave Hollingshead told McGill that he found the wrong meter in the base, which was not sealed with a tag, at Jonathan Riggs' house.

Hollingshead reported the issue to Roger Kennedy, the line crew's supervisor. Kennedy then allegedly told him to falsify a meter usage number consistent with prior readings, leading him to believe Kennedy was aware of Riggs' electricity theft.

During the investigation, a search warrant was obtained for Riggs' home and cell phone.

It was found that Riggs allegedly exchanged text messages regarding the meter at Riggs' home with Michael Spear, a lineman for the City of New Madrid.

On February 4, 2016, the date Hollingshead read Riggs' meter, Riggs had apparently asked Spear to go to his house and help him.

A search of Riggs' cell phone revealed a deleted text message sent on Feb. 4 from Riggs' phone at the same time a text message was received on Spears' phone from Riggs'. The text message allegedly read, "Will you go to my house I'll tell you how to get in and switch it out."

Riggs also allegedly told Spear, "My lord it scares me to death" and "I'm done [expletive] with it for sure."

Also on that day, police discovered a text message to Roger Kennedy on Spears' phone stating, "Dave already called Charlotte so its good and [expletive]."

On February 18, 2016, Riggs allegedly texted Spear, "I thought you took care of the meter thing at my house."

A digital screen electric meter was discovered behind a shed at Riggs' house during the search at his house, as well as 35 meter seal tags owned by the City of New Madrid.

According to court documents, the serial number on the electric meter matched the serial number on the electric meter that Hollingshead photographed at his home on February 4.

Police also learned that during the month of September 2013, a re-read was ordered due to an inconsistent reading. The form indicated that the meter usage number was 11,052, well under the 80,000 they expected based on prior readings.

According to the probable cause, it was determined that Riggs was switching electric meters between read dates, concealing actual electric consumption.

Riggs posted bond and is due in court on March 14 at 9 a.m.

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