Men at center of MUD scandal plead guilty

August 26, 2008 6:08:59 PM PDT
They were elected by a northwest side neighborhood to be watchdogs over water and sewer money, but they decided to spend it on themselves. Now there are guilty pleas in the muddy waters scandal first discovered by 13 Undercover.Neighborhoods all over Houston elect directors to their MUD boards. Two years ago we uncovered a spending scandal in one Houston neighborhood. Now there's been an admission of guilt.

Lorri Jones lived in Stone Creek when 13 Undercover exposed the muddy waters rip-off. She was on hand in court as former MUD directors Bob Carlisle and Steve Strange admitted they stole utility funds from the neighbors.

"I'm glad they plead guilty, because they are," Jones said.

The pair were accused of a shopping spree with their neighbors money, to the tune of $100,000. From washers and dryers to ceiling fans -- we traced the receipts to uncover the scheme two years ago. MUD director Steve Strange bought a glass fire screen for $199, even though there was no fireplace in the rec center. We couldn't find 27" flat screen TVs there either, even though Steve Strange bought two in four days. And who can forgot Strange's strangest expense report? His neighbors paid for lube jelly and condoms.

Neighbors may be happy with the guilty pleas, but they are worried the pair could get away with not paying back the money they stole.

Diane Roark, NW harris county MUD #16 President, said, "I honestly believe that they need to pay restitution to the district and pay the district back everything that they've taken."

Judge Joan Campbell will decide on the punishment, with a choice from deferred adjudication to 20 years in prison. Sentencing is set for October 31.

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