Tom Husted

Former Valley Electric Association CEO Tom Husted.

PAHRUMP, NEV. (FOX5) -- Sgt. Adam Tippettes with the Nye County Sheriff's Office said a search warrant was executed against the Valley Electric Association in Pahrump in connection to a sexual harassment investigation.

Detectives and deputies with the Sheriff's Office executed the warrant for the company's administrative and financial records, just after 8:30 a.m. on Friday morning. 

"The warrant stems from an investigation into allegations that former CEO, Tom Husted, had sexually harassed a female employee, and that Valley Electric key management employees were paid in exchange for non-disclosing the sexual misconduct," Tippettes said. 

The allegations, according to the Sheriff's Office, include VEA's cooperative monies were used as "hush money" for paid and former employees to "ensure the sexual misconduct was covered up."

Detectives and deputies with the Sheriff's Office believe these payouts may have contributed to Valley Electric's recently announced rate hikes, Tippettes said.

No disruptions to Valley Electric's services were experienced while the Sheriff's Office searched the administrative offices on Friday.

Jonathan Petaros, a customer with Valley Electric for more than a decade, said, "They raised our rates, I think it was like 9.9 percent. I think it equated out to be maybe one cent per kilowatt hour."

That was in 2017.

"We were told the rates were suppose to be stable until 2024," Petaros said, and according to him, rates have risen another nine percent.

"Pretty much what they said was all just a lie," he added.

FOX5 went to Valley Electric Association's Administrative offices on Friday evening. A security guard who answered the door said the company had no comment.

"I don’t think they should pass it on to everybody else I mean that wasn’t our situation," Ray, another customer who signed up with VEA two weeks ago, said. Meanwhile, Petaros is concerned for his family and ready to take action.

"Living [in Pahrump] for 23 years, I call it my home," Petaros said. "I’m raising a third generation that’s living here, and I would like to continue living here, but if this is how our power company is going to be ran, we need to do something as a co-op."

The Nye County Sheriff's Office investigation also uncovered the employees who were paid out had also signed non-disclosure agreements.

"[They] were paid substantial amounts of money and provided additional unknown benefits," Tippettes added. "Although many people may have signed the non-disclosure agreements, this has now become a criminal investigation."

VEA office Pahrump

Valley Electric Association administrative offices, located in Pahrump, Nev.

Tippettes said any witnesses in criminal proceedings were "entitled to protection, pursuant to law."

On Monday, NCSO released body camera footage of detectives executing the search warrant. They said they wanted to set the record straight after VEA sent out a newsletter to its customers. 

"Valley Electric has released two press releases riddled with dishonest statements and the Nye County Sheriff's Office is answering the media's request for rebuttal," a representative from the Sheriff's Office said in a video. 

In a letter written by the VEA board, it stated, "We would like to express out outrage at the unnecessary and likely, unlawful search conducted Friday by the Nye County Sheriff's Office. 

The letter went on to say deputies closed their office for two hours, and kept employees "in the dark" for most of the day. 

The Sheriff's Office disputed the claim. 

"The search warrant began at 8:32 and at 9:28 the front office was reopened. No where near two hours," deputies said.

Investigators added, "Deputies arrived in a conference room and handed a copy of the search warrant to CEO Angela Evans at 8:34 a.m., two minutes after arrival on scene." 

In newly released body camera footage, Angela Evans can be heard asking, "Can I see the warrant?" 

The next clip shows Evans sitting in a chair reading the warrant. The Nye County Sheriff's Office added text to the video and a big arrow pointing to Evans. 

In VEA's newsletter, they said they had no idea what was going on for five hours. The body camera footage also shows Sheriff Sharon Wirley talking to all of the employees in the morning about what kind of records they would be collecting that day. VEA also told its customers that Detective Jose Parra told the utility company no one at VEA is under investigation. 

The Sheriff's Office said this information was not accurate. 

"The bulk of this investigation involves the allegations that CEO Angela Evans, current board of directors and possibly other Valley Electric employees were possibly involved in the covering up of Husted's conduct by spending VEA money's to keep people quiet about the allegations," the Nye County Sheriff said. 

Detectives said Husted was getting paid months after he left the co-op. 

No one has been arrested, but investigators said they're combing through "copious" amounts of evidence. 

Tippettes said the Nye County Sheriff's Office would send out an update in regards to the investigation on March 10, followed by a press conference on March 26.

The investigation is on going.

Anyone with any information was urged to contact the Nye County Sheriff's Office at 775-751-7000 or by email at sheriff@co.nye.nv.us.

There was a petition signing event in Pahrump to remove the current board.

Copyright 2019 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved 

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