Ex-SA River authority supervisor accused of ‘permanently disfiguring’ employee arrested

Alfred Rakowitz facing aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury charge

SAN ANTONIO – A now-resigned San Antonio River Authority supervisor accused of hitting a co-worker in the face with PVC pipe was arrested last month after a grand jury indicted him on a charge of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, records show.

Alfred Rakowitz was indicted by a grand jury March 27 and subsequently arrested, according to online court records. Rakowitz resigned from SARA Nov. 12, 2018 -- six days after he threw a pipe from a second-story loft, hitting a co-worker in the face, personnel records state.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: SA River Authority supervisor resigns after 'permanently disfiguring' employee, records show

The victim, whom KSAT 12 is not naming, was forced to undergo surgery to put his nasal septum back in place, SARA officials confirmed in November.

Rakowitz told SARA officials that even though he was “very angry” with the victim prior to throwing the pipe, he did not mean to injure him, personnel records show.

A fellow co-worker who witnessed the assault, however, said Rakowitz threw the approximately 3- to 4-foot-long pipe at a speed that seemed "unreasonable and dangerous."

The pipe, which according to evidence photos is nearly the width of a pickup truck bed, is used as a vacuum extension inside the facility off of Farm to Market 1516, according to SARA records of the incident.

Surveillance footage provided to the KSAT 12 Defenders following an open records request did not capture the incident but does show its immediate aftermath. In it, the victim is seen clutching his nose before walking off-screen.

Two other maintenance supervisors, Utilities Manager John Gomez and Assistant Maintenance Supervisor Clarence Kiolbassa, were terminated a week after the pipe throwing incident, records show. However SARA officials said that the firings did not stem from the pipe incident.

Officials from SARA asked the state Attorney General's Office for permission to withhold Gomez and Kiolbassa's personnel files, but the attorney general denied that request months later, directing the agency to turn over their files to KSAT.

According to termination letters in both of their personnel files, SARA officials conducted a "thorough investigation of the working environment within the utilities department from November 7, 2018 - November 16, 2018," after they were informed of "racial incidents and a hostile work environment." The investigation was initiated a day after the alleged assault.

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The letters state that as leaders within the department, they "knew or should have known that these violations occurred and (they) failed to address them."

Gomez penned a note on his notice of dismissal, which read, "Not correct, I did address all issues with my director John Chisholm as he instructed to do..." he added, "This is not valid. I was unaware of any such things" and appears to have refused to sign the letter.

Rakowitz's personnel file also contains concerning information about Gomez and Kiolbassa.

The worker who witnessed Rakowitz throwing the pipe also said that he witnessed Kiolbassa hit the victim on the head during an earlier incident, according to SARA records.

Rakowitz is also accused of hitting the same victim during another previous incident. The workplace assault apparently never got reported to SARA's upper management after a then-SARA employee told the victim not to talk to anyone about what happened to him, according to SARA records.

SARA officials determined that Gomez was informed of the previous workplace violence incident but failed to notify his chain of command.

"Through this investigation, we found that some people within the utilities (department) knew about some incidents, but I was unaware about them," SARA General Manager Suzanne Scott told the Defenders in November. "This particular incident brought out something about Alfred that I was unaware of."

Scott defended her initial discussions on how Rakowitz should be disciplined, including whether to suspend him without pay and order him to go through an anger management program.

"He has exceptional performance evaluations. When it was brought to me, I was unaware of any of the other, the other incident," Scott said.

Records show SARA officials ultimately decided to fire Rakowitz, but he submitted a letter of resignation shortly before the termination was to take place.

A Bexar County Sheriff's Office incident report indicates that the victim suffered permanent disfigurement and serious bodily injury.

Records show Rakowitz’s case is set for trial May 15.

About the Authors:

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined the KSAT 12 Defenders in 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat. He provides restaurant health reports for KSAT's "Behind the Kitchen Door." Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.