A veteran Brookfield Public Works employee was suspended and relieved of some responsibilities after he was caught bypassing his home water meter in North Riverside by using a replacement meter that didn’t record usage for moths at a time over a two-year period.
Andy Zontos, a water foreman who has worked in Brookfield for 20 years, also was ordered to pay the village of North Riverside more than $1,800 for water and fined an additional $1,000 for disconnecting his village-supplied meter twice and using the replacement meter while filling up an outdoor pool at his home, records show.
North Riverside police opened an investigation into the possible theft of water by Zontos on March 2 after employees from the North Riverside Water Department reported finding the village-supplied home meter replaced by a meter that didn’t record water usage during an inspection at Zontos’ home.
The inspection was ordered after the village had not received an automated water meter reading from the home for 12 consecutive billing cycles, according to the police report.
During the inspection, the North Riverside employees reported finding the village-supplied meter “in the ceiling rafters completely disabled.”
North Riverside police reported contacting Brookfield Public Works Director Amy Wagner, who confirmed that the replacement meter was village of Brookfield property.
Asked by the Landmark what consequences Zontos’ faced for using Brookfield village property to bypass his home water meter, Wagner stated Zontos served a suspension of unspecified length and “was relieved of certain duties.”
“The employee has no past history of disciplinary action and has otherwise been an exemplary employee,” Wagner said in an email. “The village considers the matter closed.”
The Landmark solicited a request for comment from Zontos through Wagner, without response.
Police did not charge Zontos with a crime or issue him any local ordinance violation citations. The matter was handled administratively in the mayor’s office, said Hermanek, based on calculations made by Finance Director Sue Scarpiniti.
According to a March 7 email from Scarpiniti to Police Chief Deborah Garcia and Hermanek, officials estimated that Zontos owed the village for 152,000 gallons of water. Along with a meter reconnection fee, the total bill came to $1,863 in addition to a pair of $500 fines for disconnecting the village-supplied meter on two separate occasions.
“The decision was mine,” said Hermanek. “I thought he was punished enough.”
The Landmark obtained copies of the North Riverside police report, Scarpiniti’s email and Zontos’ record of payment through a Freedom of Information request.