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More charges filed against Spivey

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An additional 73 charges were filed Friday against a Troy man in connection with theft of $75,000 worth of air conditioner units from the Pike County Board of Education.

The charges against Timothy Dwayne Spivey, 43, included 29 charges of theft first degree; 40 charges of theft second degree; and four charges of theft, third degree. Of those, 69 are felony charges and four are misdemeanors. His was released on

a

$176,500 bond.

"You have to realize that this has been going on for several years," said Superintendent John Key. "We’re still continuing to investigate."

The charges against the district’s former maintenance supervisor are in addition to a charge of first degree theft issued July 15, which involved the apparent theft of 10 air conditioning units and/or components from the Pike County school system.

Police have said they believe Spivey, who had authority to order equipment for the district, had purchased the equipment and billed it to the Pike County Board of Education, then resold the units and/or components through his private business, City Electric Co.

According to a statement released by Police Chief Anthony Everage, the units were shipped to the Pike County Board of Education’s Maintenance Shop on Montgomery Street in Troy and billed to the school system.

"Police (believe) Spivey used the same method of operation in connection with Friday’s arrests as far as ordering, receiving, billing and selling the units," the chief said in the statement.

The large number of charges filed on Friday relates to the way the warrants were issued, said Sgt. Benny Scarbrough, public information officer for Troy Police. "The type of air conditioner units and components stolen are described as window units and central units, with the majority being central units," he said in a statement. "Central units are composed of two basic components known as an outside unit (heat pump) and an inside unit known as the air handler or blower."

In many cases, each of those components was cited in a separate warrant to protect the integrity of each charge. "If you do one warrant (citing multiple thefts), if one or two come up with maybe a mistake in the record, it can complicate the entire warrant," Everage said.

Police estimate the value of the units and components at $75,000, and according to Key the warrants indicate thefts that occurred from 1996 through 2001.

"That’s as far as the statute of limitations goes," he said. "And, that coincides with when (Spivey) assumed the supervisory role and had discretionary authority."

Spivey was the "one who verified the need, ordered the equipment, put it in place and checked the inventory," Key said.

The superintendent must approve all purchase orders and requisitions. And, the school board approves all expenditures on its monthly docket, either individually or as a group.

But Key said the maintenance supervisor is given the discretion to order equipment as needed. "Every teacher has discretion over some money," he said. "It’s just that the supervisor of maintenance has discretion over $1.5 million."

The school system’s annual budget is approximately $15 million. During the past six years, the maintenance budget has ranged from more than $900,000 annually to approximately $1.4 million, Key said.

"In the past couple of years, we’ve been cutting the budget and telling everyone we need to cut back" because of declining revenues and state funding, Key said.

That makes the irony of the apparent theft even more frustrating. "Everyone says, ‘how could you not find out? How could you not see it?’" Key said. "And I tell them, yes, we take inventory, but these items are capitalized they become part of the building, just like a commode, the flooring, the carpet, even paint.

"Once it becomes capitalized, you know what that serial number is, but you don’t climb on top of the building every year to check where it is."

Instead, he said, "you take inventory of items that are loose and can be moved, like teachers’ desks, books."

Now, the Pike County Board of Education is working with the Department of Examiners of Public Accounts to address internal issues ­ including how to gain restitution for the loss of state funds and equipment ­ and with the Troy Police Department to continue to investigate this case.

"We’re still continuing to investigate, and we already have evidence of other theft. We just have to verify it," Key said.

Everage said the public has been overwhelmingly cooperative in the investigation, which has required officers to go to scores of residences to check and identify possibly stolen units. "We’ve had great cooperation from the public in moving this thing along," he said. "And that cooperation expedited our investigation."

The Board of Education accepted Spivey’s resignation, effective July 15. His brother and fellow maintenance worker with the school system, Johndi Spivey, has been placed on administrative leave with pay, pending the results of the ongoing investigation, Key said.