Grovetown worker, contractor charged in theft

A Grovetown employee and a contractor were arrested recently for stealing money from the city.

Joe McNeal, the chief wastewater plant operator, was fired June 30 after police discovered that he had accepted money from a contractor who was scheduled to perform work on a city well.

City officials gave contractor John Keip, 35, a $2,523 check on June 1 to purchase items needed to repair a Third Avenue well, according to a Grovetown Department of Public Safety incident report.

Grovetown Public Works Director Michael Woods told police on June 29 that the check was cashed June 1 but that after nearly a month the repair work had not been done and Mr. Keip could not be reached.

Grovetown Investigator Scott Wheatley said police discovered that Mr. McNeal accepted money from Mr. Keip, who kept the remainder of the payment.

Mr. Keip, of Derryclare Lane in Evans, was arrested June 29 and charged with theft by conversion of payments. He was released from the city jail July 1 after posting a $3,100 bond.

Mr. McNeal, 44, of Newman Street in Grovetown, also was charged with theft by conversion on June 30 and was later released after posting a $3,100 bond, according to jail records. He worked 19 years for the city and performed several duties in the Water and Sewer Department.

Reach Valerie Rowell at (706) 868-1222, ext. 110, or valerie.rowell@augustachronicle.com.