Thursday, April 15, 2021 by Elizabeth Pagano

Investigation finds theft and resale at Austin Energy

A city investigation has found that an employee stole and sold more than $130,000 worth of items from Austin Energy.

A letter from Rodney Stockton’s attorney, Rick Cofer, clarified that Stockton does not admit responsibility for all of the missing items. In his letter of resignation, Stockton confessed that he had stolen two nitrogen oxide analyzers valued at more than $43,000. 

Upon advice from counsel, Stockton had no other comment on the report.

As an inventory control specialist at an Austin Energy power plant, Stockton was responsible for the physical inventory of the plant. After one of a pair of missing nitrogen oxide analyzers was found for sale online, Austin Energy filed a report with the Austin Police Department. A report from the Office of the City Auditor details a list of missing items, some of which Stockton had posted for sale online. 

According to the city report, “As a part of their investigation, the Austin Police Department contacted the online marketplace where the analyzers were listed for sale and received a list of items that had been sold on Stockton’s account. The list contained 20 items, in addition to the two analyzers described above, that had been stolen from Austin Energy and listed for sale between July 2018 and March 2019. The combined value of these items was more than $87,000. According to Austin Energy’s analysis, until Stockton stole the analyzers, he had been able to conceal his thefts, because he stole items from the power plant’s warehouse that were not frequently used.”

A search of the warehouse by Austin Energy found empty boxes for some of the items on the shelf and reports from other employees that “Stockton had filled some of the boxes with paper and other items to make them heavy in case someone picked them up.”

Following Stockton’s resignation, Austin Energy found two additional items with a value of $9,000 missing, though they were not listed for sale like the others and so the utility “can’t say with certainty what happened to them.”

Including those two items, the total value of missing items in the report is $139,970.

Since learning of the thefts, the utility’s staffers have taken additional action to secure inventory, including “opening boxes to make sure the correct item is in each box when performing inventory checks” and limiting the number of people who have access to the warehouse. 

Stockton is no longer employed by the city; he resigned from his position at Austin Energy on April 8, 2019. 

Photo by Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

Austin Energy: As a municipally-owned electric utility, Austin Energy is a rarity in the largely deregulated State of Texas. It's annual budget clocks in at over $1 billion. The utility's annual direct transfer of a Council-determined percentage of its revenues offers the city a notable revenue stream.

Office of the City Auditor: This city department is created by the city's charter in order to establish and ensure "accountability transparency, and a culture of continuous improvement in city operations."

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