Kirby public works employee kept job after water theft arrest

David Hunt Jr. accused of stealing water from SAWS off and on for 26 months

By Dillon Collier - Investigative Reporter, Josh Saunders - Photojournalist

KIRBY, Texas - A city of Kirby public works employee charged with stealing water from the San Antonio Water System  remains employed, despite accusations that he used his expertise to pull off the yearslong scheme.

David Hunt Jr., 38, was arrested late last year on a felony charge of criminal mischief - impair/interrupt public water.

An arrest affidavit states that, on at least seven different occasions between August 2016 and October 2018, Hunt illegally connected to a SAWS meter line using his own meters in order to supply water to his home in the 5900 block of Catalina Sunrise Drive.

"We went and turned water off at the meter. He reconnected himself, turned it back on," said Anne Hayden, SAWS spokeswoman.

Hayden said that Hunt's repeated tampering with the line amounted to over $3,200 in stolen water, replacement parts and time spent by SAWS employees to make repairs.

"We have to make sure our customers are safe. We have to make sure our system is safe," said Hayden, who added that Hunt was using a meter different than the kind SAWS uses.

The San Antonio Police Department warrant for Hunt's arrest states that at one point, he used a straight connection between the supply line and his line.

Hayden encouraged customers who have fallen behind on payments to contact the water utility instead of resorting to these sorts of methods, since SAWS has multiple programs designed to assist customers in tough financial situations.

She said SAWS has started to crack down on repeat offenders and has filed criminal complaints in around 10 cases.

Hunt, who was hired by Kirby Public Works in June 2011, has more than five years of experience as a water utility worker, according to personnel files released to the KSAT 12 Defenders.

Hunt has also spent time working in the public works department's street maintenance and park divisions.

Records show that, after his arrest in December, Hunt was placed on paid administrative leave and was then transferred in early January from the water division to the street maintenance division.

Kirby City Manager Monique Vernon declined repeated requests for an interview about Hunt, but defended the decision to keep him on the payroll in an email sent last month that reads:

No final adjudication has been made regarding the allegations against David Hunt, therefore he is presumed innocent until proven guilty. He has been transferred from the Public Works Water Division to the Streets Division.

Hunt's arrest triggered a motion to revoke a probation hearing in an unrelated Bexar County case in which he was convicted of breaking into a home with another man and assaulting two women.

Hunt, who was convicted in the felony case in 2015 and was given 10 years of probation, is scheduled to appear in court next month and could be sentenced to several years in prison.

"Sir, don't pick up any new offenses. This is not acceptable," Judge Velia Meza said during a court appearance for Hunt earlier this month.

Meza ordered Hunt to submit to weekly drug tests in the criminal mischief case until he has his next hearing in the burglary case.

Hunt refused to answer questions from the Defenders outside court and instead referred all questions to his attorney, Cornelious Cox.

"We don't try our cases in a hallway. We don't try them on TV or in the newspaper," said Cox, who pointed out that he did not represent Hunt in his burglary case.

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