Pahrump’s utility has officially cut ties with former CEO Angela Evans.
Monday’s announcement of her departure from the Valley Electric Association came nearly five months after her arrest for alleged embezzlement and subsequent placement on paid administrative leave. The case was turned over by the Nye County Sheriff’s Office to the Nye County District Attorney’s Office, and charges have yet to be filed.
Dave Hall, president of the association’s board of directors, said Dick Peck will continue to serve as interim CEO and declined to offer further details in a phone interview.
Evans joined Valley Electric in May 2018, after former CEO Tom Husted left abruptly “to pursue other interests.” In February, she was arrested for allegedly using $75,000 of the utility’s money to move power lines near her Pahrump home underground.
The charge against Evans was part of a larger investigation into the utility by the Sheriff’s Office into possible misuse of funds.
On Feb. 22, shortly after the utility announced a 9.9 percent rate hike, the Sheriff’s Office searched the cooperative’s administrative offices, citing allegations of sexual harassment and financial cover-ups against Husted. Husted has not been charged with a crime or arrested in relation to the ongoing investigation.
A second search warrant was carried out Feb. 26, the date Evans was arrested.
Nye County District Attorney Chris Arabia said the office plans to confer with an outside expert before deciding whether to file a criminal complaint.
Valley Electric executives and the co-op’s board of directors have said the allegations against Evans and the overall investigation are false.
“I was in the boardroom when the special investigator went through the report on the timeline and on the line items, and he could find nothing in his investigation that would indicate any illegal activities went on,” Peck said in a previous interview. “She (Evans) was not either directly or indirectly involved in the decision-making process. That’s all I can say. It was in the report, and that will be given to the DA.”
Attempts to reach Evans have been unsuccessful.
An audit of Valley’s 2018 financials by Texas-based accounting firm Bolinger, Segars, Gilbert and Moss in February stated the utility’s statements “present fairly” its financial position.
Bill Miller, a tax partner at the Texas-based accounting firm, previously told the Review-Journal the audit provides “reasonable assurance, rather than absolute assurance,” that financial statements are free of misstatements.
Peck said previously that “there’s nothing in the audit that would support any of the allegations of hush money paid.”
Attempts by the Pahrump Valley Times to reach Husted have been unsuccessful.
Shakeups and board rearrangements at VEA
Before the arrest of Angela Evans, named CEO of the co-op in October 2018, and other investigations at Valley, a members group known as VEA Members for Change started a petition-signing movement to remove several of Valley’s board of directors amid rate increases for broadband and residential customers for Valley.
Hundreds of members signed the petition after the announcement of the rate increase with the number of members coming out to sign intensifying after the announcement of the sheriff’s office investigation into Valley and Evans’ arrest, according to organizers of the members group at that time.
At the time of the petition drive, directors in each of Valley’s six districts were targeted for removal by the group.
Three of those directors being sought after for removal by the group remain on the board: David Dawson (District 6, north Pahrump); Richard Johnson (District 3, Beatty); and Hall (District 3, Amargosa Valley).
Peter Gazsy, former board member for Valley’s District 1 (south Pahrump) and Ken Derschan, former board president (District 5, Sandy Valley), targets of Members for Change, both resigned in May. John Maurer (District 4, Fish Lake Valley), also a target of the members group, retired early, just before his term was up in 2019; he was not seeking re-election.
Kathy Keyes (District 4, Fish Lake Valley) ran unopposed for Maurer’s seat in 2019.
Other new faces on the board include Michelle Caird, District 1 (south Pahrump) and Terrie D’Antonio (District 5, Amargosa Valley).
Jeffrey Meehan Pahrump Valley Times