Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department's Donald Richard arrested for stealing tools

Donald Richard sure had some nice tools in the garage of his house at 13241 SW 52nd Ter. The Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department electrical shop supervisor stored a $70, ten-piece Irwin vise set and a $1,000, 432-piece Craftsman professional mechanics tool set inside two Craftsman chests valued at $725.

Richard kept the instruments at his residence for about four to six months until this past June 7, when investigators from the Miami-Dade Inspector General's Office came knocking on his door. Turns out Richard bought the tools, as well a water pressure cleaner and an air compressor, on the taxpayers' dime. Earlier this month, the 56-year-old county employee was arrested on three grand theft felony charges, as well organized scheme to defraud.

According to the arrest affidavit, the day after inspector general agents visited his house, Richard returned the chest and the tools. He explained he had taken the items to his house to mark the merchandise as county property because he didn't have time to do it during work. Richard, who had authority to buy equipment that did not exceed $1,000, admitted his boss knew nothing about the purchases. "I know it looks bad," he told investigators.

The affidavit also states, "Tools have been spontaneously appearing at the electrical shop. To date, your affiance has recovered an additional 46 separate items that water and sewer department workers report have suddenly appeared." One of Richard's co-workers told agents that on June 14, he had helped the shop supervisor unload the pressure cleaner from the bed of a truck into the water and sewer building where they worked.

Richard allegedly concealed the purchases by assigning identification numbers from old tools already at the plant. "Richard would place the recycled numbers on the requisition forms and purchase orders," the affidavit claims.

Reached on his home phone, Richard declined to comment for this story.

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Francisco Alvarado was born in Nicaragua and grew up in Miami, giving him unique insight into the Magic City and all its dark corners. An investigative reporter with a knack for uncovering corruption, Alvarado made his bones as a staff writer at Miami New Times and remains in dogged pursuit of the next juicy story.