Authorities confirmed Tuesday two additional Lebanon Gas Department workers are under investigation for apparent natural gas theft at their homes.
According to city attorney Andy Wright, former workers Ralph Sloan and Henry Bennett were added to a multi-agency investigation that started with Mark Caplenor, who resigned amid allegations in August he stole natural gas at his home for about nine years. Wright said Sloan retired recently from the city amid similar allegations.
“I can confirm it. Sloan retired and Bennett resigned.,” Wright said. “There were allegations both were involved in obtaining gas without paying for it at their homes. That is what law enforcement is investigating.
“We have been told by law enforcement there was an admission by both of them they were obtaining gas without paying for it.”
Assistant District Attorney Jimmy Lea also confirmed an investigation but didn’t comment specifically on the suspects involved.
“Essentially I can’t really comment on anything at this point,” Lea said. “I can confirm we have been notified by the city. We have asked multiple law enforcement agencies to investigate. Once those investigations are complete, we will decide on which direction to go.
“As far as we know, the sheriff’s department part of the investigation is complete and has been turned over to us. We are currently reviewing that. We are waiting to conclude all investigations to determine whether they are connected or not connected or what. We want to do everything we can to make sure if any of these cases are presented to the grand jury, it will be able to make the best decision on whether charges are filed.”
Lebanon Commissioner of Public Works Jeff Baines said the Lebanon City Council included on its agenda Tuesday to fill the vacant positions left by Caplenor, Sloan and Bennett.
“Two more admitted to theft of gas,” Baines said. “One chose to retire and the other resigned. That’s what’s on the agenda [Tuesday] to fill the three positions. In this case, all three chose to resign or retire.”
Since Sloan, a 32-year employee with the city, lived in the county, sheriff’s investigators handled the investigation into his alleged involvement in stealing gas at his home.
“We were contacted by the district attorney to investigate a gas theft,” Sheriff Robert Bryan said. “That investigation, as well as any involvement we have in the investigation, has been completed and turned over to the district attorney’s office. “
Lebanon police investigators are working allegations against Bennett – a four-year city worker – since his home is within the city limits.
“The investigation on Bennett is complete at this point, but there is at least one more person we want to interview,” Lebanon police Chief Scott Bowen said. “I know enough to know now that one retired and one resigned due to their actions. The ethical aspects of this are terrible. Our citizens entrust us and pay us and then you have actions that bring shame upon us because someone does something that’s unethical. “
Caplenor, Sloan or Bennett has not been charged as the case will likely be turned over to a Wilson County grand jury.