Corruption: Port Arthur city supervisor arrested for stealing 8 tons of metal

Soliz

Another city of Port Arthur supervisor was arrested on theft charges Feb. 10 as part of an ongoing Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office and Port Arthur Police Department investigation. 

Waste Water Department supervisor Joseph Soliz, 55, is accused of stealing and selling nearly eight tons, or 16,000 pounds, of metal belonging to the city of Port Arthur.

According to the district attorney’s office, Soliz was arrested and formally charged with six third-degree felony counts of theft of metal by a public servant. Other cases against Soliz are being investigated at this time.

The metal allegedly stolen by Soliz was property belonging to the City of Port Arthur Water Department that was sold to a metal scrap yard in Beaumont. Investigators say Soliz stole the eight tons of regulated metal over a period of approximately seven years, pocketing approximately $26,000.

Soliz was taken to the Jefferson County Jail at about 5 p.m. on Feb. 10. Bond was set at $72,000.

According to a press release from the city of Port Arthur, Soliz cooperated by surrendering to Port Arthur police at his residence.

“Until resolution of Mr. Soliz’s criminal charges, he will be put on unpaid administrative leave from the city,” said City Manager Brian McDougal. “We encourage city employees and the public alike to follow the directive: if you see something, say something.”

McDougal praised the city’s police department and District Attorney Bob Wortham and his staff for their thoroughness and quick response on behalf of the residents of Port Arthur.

Soliz’s arrest comes on the heels of indictments against three other former Port Arthur city employees accused of theft charges.

John Tomplait, former city of Port Arthur assistant water utilities director, was indicted Feb. 10 on two counts of theft by a public servant for allegedly stealing and selling more than 1,600 pounds of brass, copper and aluminum. For the two third-degree felony charges, Tomplait faces from two to 10 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.

Former Port Arthur Streets supervisor Steven Guidry and Public Works employee Randle Davis were indicted on charges of engaging in organized criminal activity and theft by a public servant for a fuel theft scheme involving two other men. According to investigators, the city employees provided business owners David Frank and Rabindra Nauth with city-owned Fuelman gas cards and their employee PIN numbers, and Guidry is also accused of providing fuel to Nauth from fuel tanks on the back of his city truck, allegedly resulting in the theft of more than $146,000 from the city. If convicted of the first-degree felonies, Guidry and Davis face five to 99 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.

As the investigation into public corruption continues, more arrests are expected.

If anyone has information on crimes involving public integrity issues or public integrity crimes in the city of Port Arthur, they are urged to call Lt. M. Blitch at the Port Arthur Police Department or the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office and speak to an investigator in the Public Integrity Division.

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