Two former Port Arthur city employees sentenced for theft

Tomplait and Edwards

A judge sentenced two former city of Port Arthur employees, John Tomplait and Carleton Edwards, on March 20 for their roles in separate thefts from the city resulting in thousands of dollars in losses.

Former Port Arthur assistant water utilities director John Tomplait was sentenced to probation for stealing more than 1,600 pounds of metal from the city.

Tomplait, 54, worked for the city for 36 years before he was arrested and formally charged with two counts of theft of metal by a public servant Jan. 20, 2016, following an investigation by PAPD and the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office. He was indicted Feb. 10, 2016, in the theft of more than 1,600 pounds of brass, copper and aluminum from the city water department. According to the probable cause (PC) affidavit for his arrest, he received approximately $2,445 in cash from CMC Commercial Metals on College Street in Beaumont for the metal during six separate occasions from May 2009 to January 2012.

For the two third-degree felony charges, Tomplait faced from two to 10 years in prison and fines up to $10,000. He pleaded guilty to one count of theft of a public servant and received five years probation and must pay a $500 fine and restitution.

Tomplait reportedly admitted to taking the metal and selling it but said he did so under the direction of a former, now deceased, supervisor.

Prosecutor Mike Laird said photos of one of the sales made it obvious Tomplait knew he was in the wrong.

“His initial statement to police was he had permission from his supervisor to use the money from the sale of the metal for a couple of Christmas parties,” Laird revealed. “But there are some pictures of him selling the metal, and in one of the pictures he is trying to hide the City of Port Arthur emblem on the truck.”

Carleton Edwards, former Port Arthur superintendent of the streets division, was also sentenced Monday.

Edwards, 50, was initially arrested on 46 counts of credit card abuse in November 2015 for using a city credit card to make personal purchases amounting to approximately $1,346. He was later indicted for theft by a public servant.

Edwards pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years probation with 30 days in jail up front, and ordered to pay a $500 fine and restitution.

“It may not seem like that much money, but these guys were just nickel and diming the city of Port Arthur to death,” said Laird.

City Manager Brian McDougal took the lead in the anti-corruption efforts in Port Arthur.

“The City of Port Arthur is pleased that justice has been served,” McDougal said following the sentencing. “The actions of these employees have tarnished Port Arthur’s reputation, and that of its honest and hardworking employees. We, as a city, are committed to earning your trust.”