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— The former manager of Benton County Water District 1 pleaded not guilty to stealing money from the district.

Wayne Allen of Garfield is charged with theft of property, a class B felony punishable with a prison sentence ranging from five to 20 years. He entered his plea last Monday morning during an arraignment before Judge Robin Green.

Allen was arrested June 22 after an investigation was launched into the theft of money the water district received from the sale of old brass water meters.

The case was investigated by the Benton County Sheriff's Office.

Allen is accused of signing and cashing a $1,000 check that was described as incentive pay, but he was not authorized by the board to receive incentive pay. He is also accused of taking more than $4,000 from the sale of the water meters. After the money was discovered missing, more than $3,000 was found in an envelope on a shelf in Allen's office, according to court documents; however, more than $1,000 was missing, court documents state.

Another water district employee admitted that Allen gave him an envelope containing the money and asked him to put the money in Allen's office, according to a report summarizing the case.

Allen was terminated from his position after the arrest.

After his arrest, Allen was released from custody on citation.

His pretrial hearing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Sept. 21.

News, Pages 7 on 08/12/2009

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