Arab Electric manager accused of embezzlement has arraignment Tuesday

Updated: Aug. 20, 2017 at 6:33 PM CDT
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ARAB, AL (WAFF) - An employee of a local utility accused of stealing nearly $3 million in taxpayer money has a date set in a Federal courtroom this week. The suspect was part of Arab Electric Cooperative Member Services' management.

John Pearson Willis III, known as "Jack," was a supervisor who dealt with the public through collections and dealing with customer complaints. He is set for arraignment at the federal courthouse in Huntsville on Tuesday.

Federal prosecutors allege that between January 1 and December 31 of 2016, Willis embezzled, stole and intentionally misapplied $2,988,384.81 in the care, custody and control of the utility. The case is under federal jurisdiction because it concerns alleged theft of a federally-funded program.

Under federal code, if convicted, the penalty could include no more than 10 years in prison. In the court filing, there is no mention of prison time, only that prosecutors seek forfeiture of property in the amount allegedly embezzled.

Willis began working with Arab Electric Cooperative in 1988. WAFF 48 News reported in March that the co-op placed him on unpaid leave after accounting irregularities were discovered in an audit.

The Arab Tribune reports Arab Electric officials tell them customer rates were not affected.

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