Alamogordo City employee accused of waiving family’s water bills

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (KRQE) – An Alamogordo city employee has been suspended for allegedly giving his friends and family a break on their water bills. Investigators said the employee’s actions cost the city nearly $10,000. Now, residents want to know why he is getting his job back.

“To put it bluntly, I’m pissed,” said resident Jennifer Marciel. “It’s stupid.”

According to city officials, Customer Service Manager Armando Ortega waived 17 people’s monthly water payments for two years.

“We do have some responsibility in our failure to review and make sure all of the different departments were following proper procedures,” said Alamogordo City Attorney Stephen Thies.

Thies said anytime a person fails to pay their utility bill they’re automatically put onto a list to have their service disconnected. He said Ortega, whose job was to man that list, didn’t put his family or friends on it, so the city never knew it was losing money.

“The city uncovered an unfortunate situation and we addressed it,” said Thies.

Ortega was suspended from work without pay for 30 days. He’s expected to be back at work Aug. 12.

Thies would not go into any detail about Ortega’s punishment just that it was a personnel matter.

Mayor Susie Galea said neither she or the city commission had a chance to have say on Ortega’s punishment.

Marciel isn’t happy with the decision.

“I feel he should be going to jail for what he’s doing not getting his job back and a little slap on the wrist,” she said.

The city said it’s reviewing its billing procedures to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again. They said all of the money is being repaid by the customer’s Ortega allegedly helped.

Ortega did not want to comment.

He is not facing charges.

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