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CAIRO, GA (WALB) - An organized group of employees may have been stealing money from Cairo utility customers for years.
Money is definitely missing from the city's utilities department. And now the GBI is investigating to find out exactly where it went.
When Cairo Utility customer Richard Lang heard of possible theft by utility employees, he had a simple response.
"That would be sorry."
The money in question is from deposits paid for utility services from 2005 to 2008. City officials say a significant, and undisclosed to the public, amount of money appears to be missing.
"I don't mind paying for the services they give me but I certainly don't want someone putting it in their pocket," said a concerned Lang.
But that's exactly where the money may have gone. Cairo's city attorney says as many as 20 current and former employees may have had their hands in the proverbial cookie jar. After a year long in-house audit of the discrepancies between what would have been expected from work orders and what was actually deposited, District Attorney, Joe Mulholland requested GBI involvement. That's a development some utility customers support.
"They should find them out and they should be attended to and criminally charged and made to answer for it," said Lang.
A woman who just finished paying a utility bill wouldn't speak on camera but she did tell us rumors have circulated through Cairo for years about the utility department. She said people feel like they've been overcharged by Cairo Utility and the GBI probe could shed light on whether that's true.
"What I paid I owed," explained Lang. "But if it wasn't going to the right place, which, it could cost me more in the long run because they don't have the funds to do what they're supposed to be doing with it. I hope they get to the bottom of it."
Until then, customers will wonder whether their money went into the pockets of crooks.
The discrepancies were first discovered in August 2008 after the city converted to a new financial management and billing software system. Cairo city leaders say the new system should prevent future problems.