Investigator Mickey Bradford says opening false accounts and can increase the bills for all customers
Cristal Marshall is charged with a felony of making a false statement under Georgia law
Donna Warren is charged with a felony of making false statements under Georgia law
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -
Two Albany women remain in the Dougherty County jail after they were indicted for providing false documents to open an account at Albany Water Gas and Light. Utility investigators say it is becoming a growing problem with people opening accounts under false names.
Providing false documents to open an account with any government agency is a felony. And even though investigators are working hard to prevent this from happening, when it does it could leave other customers footing the bill.
Water Gas and Light investigator Mickey Bradford says the landlord at 806 Baldwin Drive notified them in June that the utilities should not be turned on. Investigators then found the name on the Water Gas and Light account was not the same as on the property lease. Now the tenants Cristal Marshall and Donna Warren have been indicted for providing false statements to officials at Water, Gas and Light.
"We did a little background check and found out that the utilities were on in a name other than the person who had actually lease to the property," said Investigator Bradford.
Dougherty District Attorney Greg Edwards says the submission of false names to open accounts at utilities like Water Gas and Light is becoming a more frequent problem.
"The trend seems to be when someone has a high debt already to water, gas and light they don't want to pay so they go through different steps to present documents in order to get utilities," said Edwards.
Investigators can contact landlords and rental agents to investigate people who provide false documents to use water gas and light services. The back of the yellow form that all customers are required to fill out has the Georgia law stating that providing false statements in writing to a government agency is a felony.
"It's punishable by a fine of not more than a $1000, and by imprisonment for not less than one no more than five years," said Bradford.
Bradford says customers opening accounts under false names can increase the bills for all customers.
"We can't operate like that so we have no other choice but to recover them elsewhere which sometimes means going up on rates," said Bradford.
Cristal Marshall and Donna Warren currently remain in the Dougherty County Jail. Both Cristal Marshall and Donna Warren are charged with a felony of making a false statement under Georgia law.
Water Gas and Light say that any customer with past-due accounts can make arrangements to have their utilities turned back on when their bad debt is paid.