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JEA worker charged with employee theft

Hugh Popell, 66, also faces charge of falsifying official document

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A JEA worker arrested in April on charges of employee theft and public servant falsifying an official document resigned from the Jacksonville-owned utility in June.  the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said. 

Hugh Poppell, 66, falsified his time sheets, adding up to nearly $5,000 in wages that he stole from JEA, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office arrest report.

With the assistance of the JEA Audit Team, police said they compiled Poppell's timesheets, GPS data from his truck, badging history and emails from the beginning of last November to the end of February. 

Investigators said the review found that there were several days when Poppell's timesheet and overtime requests differed from his vehicle's GPS data, badging history and email data.

According to his arrest report, Poppell would say he was working when he was instead making personal stops. One example of a personal stop, police said, was when he visited his niece for about an hour and a half while being paid time-and-a-half for holiday pay. 

The State Attorney’s Office agreed to defer prosecution if Poppell pays back $4,361, pays a fine and does 50 hours of community service. 

The city's Officer of Inspector General issued a report Wednesday finding a lack of internal controls prevented JEA management from verifying the accuracy of timesheets for employees within the project engineering and construction division, in which Poppell worked.