ARTESIA, N.M. (KRQE) – A City of Artesia employee apparently thought he could make some quick extra cash while on the job. Now, he is facing charges for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars worth of brass meant for city projects. There is now a warrant for this former city employee’s arrest.
Police were called to Steel Depot in Artesia in early August after workers noticed something unusual. Hundreds of pounds of brass were brought in by one man over a course of 10 days.
“What we found out is that a former city employee embezzled 345lbs of brass material and completed about six transactions from July 26th to August the 2nd,” said Commander Pete Quinones with the Artesia Police Department.
Police say that man was Blake Ledbetter. The City of Artesia says Ledbetter was hired as a technician with the city water department. He was on the job for two weeks before police say he started swiping brass couplings and other materials from the city.
One of the workers at the steel depot says she noticed that a ton of the items looked like items the water authority used.
In a newly-released police lapel video, workers can be seen pulling hundreds of pounds of brass for police as evidence. Police say the stolen brass totals around $8,600 worth of metal. They say the depot gave Ledbetter about $600 for it.
“I’ve been with the department for about 17 years. and in my time I haven’t heard of a case like this where a city employee has embezzled and sold it to a local area,” said Cmdr. Quinones.
Police officially charged Ledbetter last week. He has an active warrant for his arrest. He resigned from the city two days after the police were called to the steel depot.