Documents Reveal More on Fraud Allegations Against City of Abilene

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(UPDATE) – The following is a statement from Abilene City Manager Robert Hanna:

“The City of Abilene is currently in a lawsuit with Mr. Chad Carter, which limits my ability to respond.

That said, I do want to state that I take any allegation of waste, fraud and abuse seriously. I will investigate all allegations of this nature aggressively. If malfeasance or illegal activity by an employee is found, discipline up to and including termination will swiftly follow. If the abuse is found to be of an elected official, appropriate state authorities will be notified.

In the past I have asked Mr. Carter to contact me about his concerns. I would state that again. To date, Mr. Carter has not contacted me to discuss his concerns in person.  If Mr. Carter believes high level officials have been involved in any activity that violates the public trust, I ask him to please schedule a meeting with me so that I can better understand the complaint, and investigate those allegations.

To my knowledge, most if not all of the employees in a leadership or supervisory position with authority over Mr. Carter while he was employed by the City of Abilene are no longer employed by the City because they have chosen to retire, pursued other employment, or have relocated to another community with their family.”

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Documents from the Texas Board of Professional Engineers reveal more information about three investigations into allegations of fraud against the City of Abilene.

All three investigations were conducted in 2014 and 2015 and have since been closed. 

KTAB and KRBC began looking into these investigations after a former City of Abilene Engineer, Chad Carter, spoke out about these allegations involving road projects during a special meeting held Tuesday night regarding the possibility of adding a fee to water bills that would fund road repairs.

The Texas Board of Professional Engineers  began their first  investigation in February of 2014 after Engineer Chad Carter filed a complaint with the board against the City of Abilene, which alleged the City was not in accordance with the the Texas Engineering Practice Act, according to an enforcement detail report.

The specific section of act Carter claims the City violated can be found below:

1001.407. Construction of Certain Public Works
The state or a political subdivision of the state may not construct a public work involving
engineering in which the public health, welfare, or safety is involved, unless:
(1) the engineering plans, specifications, and estimates have been prepared by an
engineer; and
(2) the engineering construction is to be performed under the direct supervision of
an engineer.

Cater filed his complaint because he says the City did not have a professional engineer overseeing road construction projects in the area. The enforcement detail report says an attorney retained by the City of Abilene after the complaint was filed responded to the Texas Board of Professional Engineers and said, “the City of Abilene had been evaluating the supervision and structure of the Public Works Department prior to this complaint.”

The City then created a new position, Assistant Director of Public Works, according to the enforcement detail report, which says this assistant director, “will have the responsibilities of supervising the Engineering Division.”

The enforcement detail report also says the City hired an engineering firm “After-the-Fact” to inspect the road projects after they were complete, and “no specific deficiencies [were] identified.”

The case for the first complaint was closed, but Mr. Carter made a second complaint to the Texas Board of Professional Engineers in January of 2015 that alleged the City was still not adhering to its agreement reached in the first complaint which, “resulted in evidence that suggested the City of Abilene was not following the requirements of the Act by ensuring that City of Abilene projects were designed and construction supervised by licensed professional engineers.”

Carter mentioned several road projects in the second complaint, including Hardison Lane, Dixon Road, South 12th and South 13th Street, Autumn Sage, Sandy Street, and Merion Street, saying these projects did not have proper supervision, according to the enforcement detail report.

The City responded to these allegations, claiming Mr. Rodney D. Thrailkill, P.E. supervised the Hardison Lane project, and the other projects mentioned were “designed prior to the Board’s initial settlement case,” the enforcement detail report reveals. After the Texas Board of Professional Engineers received this information, they closed the second case.

Carter filed a third complaint in April of 2015, but the road project mentioned involved TxDOT, and the Texas Board of Professional Engineers closed the case before investigating, because they did not have jurisdiction.

A lawsuit Carter’s employment with the City of Abilene was terminated ninety days after he filed the first complaint, and he currently has an active lawsuit against the City involving the allegations of fraud.

BigCountryHomepage is following this story closely and will provided any updates as they become available.

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