Alabama's Prichard Water Works and Sewer Board applied for a total of $333 million in federal infrastructure grants weeks before the FBI and Mobile County Sheriff’s Office raided the Water Works offices.
According to Mobile Real-Time News, the FBI also raided the home of at least one employee during the probe into allegations of corruption and theft. Prichard Water Works and Sewer Board provides water for about 32,400 residents living in the area of Prichard, Alabama.
Prichard applied for more federal money than any other water system in the state, according to documents from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, reported Mobile Real-Times News.
According to Mobile Real-Time News, a former manager of the Water Works is out on $250,000 bond due after being charged with first degree theft of property and aggravated theft by deception. Additionally, the former manager, Nia Bradley, is accused of using a Water Works credit card to pay for personal items and travels.
Authorities seized more than $200,000 in goods from Bradley’s home in February, which includes Gucci bags and firearms, reported Mobile Real-Time News.
Three weeks before the raids the Water Works applied for federal grants to fund four projects. This cost $333 million and included requests for the three most expensive individual projects in the state.
The three projects include:
- $135 million for city-wide sewer extension;
- $100 million for repairing leaks in the water lines; and
- $76 million for systemwide project improvement.
Prichard Water Works has not responded to requests for comment about the grant applications.
ADEM is evaluating the grant applications and said it will evaluate all factors when considering Prichard’s application, reported Mobile Real-Time News.
“ADEM will prioritize funding based on financial and engineering needs,” ADEM External Affairs Chief Lynn Battle said via email, reported Mobile Real-Time News. “All factors affecting the needs will be considered.”
Bradley’s next court appearance is scheduled for Apr. 21 and that any other issues involving the Prichard Water Board probe would be part of an ongoing investigation according to a spokesperson for the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office.
The probe was announced in February, however Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich said that the investigation spans more than just the potential misuse of credit cards, reported Mobile Real-Time News.
“This is all encompassing,” said Rich, reported Mobile Real-Time News. “There are allegations that property was bought and allegations that other things were bought through other banking and financial mechanisms. That’s what makes this so large.”