Ex-Point Venture water employee accused of misappropriating $65K

Travis County
Lake Travis file

Point Venture’s water control district says a former office manager possibly misappropriated more than $65,000 over seven years, and the Travis County Sheriff’s Office is investigating, according to a district newsletter.

Officials overseeing Travis County Water Control and Improvement District Point Venture said they found payment discrepancies in accounts overseen by Chance Chatham in an audit released in July of 2017.

The district reviewed $65,790.14 in questionable charges that included personal medical insurance premiums, telephone payments, legal fees and other charges on the district credit card,  the newsletter states.

The total amount of questionable charges included both spending that appeared unauthorized and purchases that may have been valid. 

“In numerous interactions with Ms. Chatham’s attorney, the District attempted to obtain as many of the receipts for these charges as possible in order to discover the true amount which was misappropriated,” according to the District’s newsletter. “After a series of back and forth interactions, it was clear that Ms. Chatham would not be able to provide receipts for all of the questionable charges she argued were valid District purchases.”

Chatham’s attorney, Tyler Deck, said they would not comment.

Point Venture is a community of fewer than 1,000 people on Lake Travis north of Lakeway. The district entered into a settlement agreement with Chatham to have her return $35,252. She paid that sum back, and the district recovered $10,000 through insurance, the newsletter states.

“The board accepted this settlement amount based on a shared consensus that doing so maximized its net recovery, reduced its ongoing legal costs and avoided the uncertainties, vexations and expenses of ongoing future litigation,” according to the District.

The District’s chief operations manager, Cristin Cecala, reported the issue to the Travis County Sheriff’s Office on April 26, according to the newsletter. Prior to publishing, Cecala and the district did not return a call and email seeking comment.

On April 30, the sheriff’s white collar crime unit requested more information about the incident, and Cecala met with a detective to provide it, the newsletter states.

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