Two ex-city employees sentenced to jail in theft case - Tucson News Now

Two ex-city employees sentenced to jail

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The allegations of illegal work date to 2006 and total tens of thousands of dollars. The allegations of illegal work date to 2006 and total tens of thousands of dollars.
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A judge has ordered a jail sentence for two former City of Tucson employees who pleaded guilty to stealing from the city of Tucson.

The judge ordered 60 days in jail and three years probation for Kurt Hough and Robert Palomarez.

They were charged with using city materials and equipment on personal projects.

The work ranged from hauling dirt to repairing potholes on private roads. The allegations of illegal work date to 2006 and total tens of thousands of dollars.

The sentence is likely to cause some people to be outraged. Besides 60 days in jail, which is also on work furlough, they will be required to pay $5,000 restitution.

Kurt Hough, the former streets director for the city and supervisor Robert Palomerez were given identical sentences. The judge told the men they violated the trust of the taxpayer and created a culture that allowed this to happen.

Both men apologized to the court, their families and the city of Tucson for what happened.

There was some question as to whether $5,000 in restitution was enough since the grand jury estimated the damages in excess of $100,000.

But the state argued there was no way really to determine how much the damages really were and the figure was worked out in a plea deal.

But the state still feels the judges decision was the right one.

"Some people are going to say this is just a slap on the wrist to these guys. What they did was a lot more serious than that. They lost their jobs, they lost their retirement, they're spending some time in jail for a case that's seven years old. I think that's a just resolution in this case. When these guys go around Tucson they're going to be remembered with a scarlet letter."

The two men left the courtroom and were told by the judge to report to probation immediately.. even though their jail time will be on work release. It's still unclear how the details will be worked out.

There was some question in the courtroom as to whether that was a correct amount but the state argued even though the grand jury felt the damages could have totaled as high as $100,000, there was no way to determine that.

The state also says the verdict was "fair and just."

Before he was sentenced, Hough apologized saying he was sorry he "embarrassed the city," and his family.

He says much of what he has seen and read about him have been "rumor and innuendo."

He told the court "I thought I did a good job," referring to his years of service with the city.

Before pronouncing the sentence Judge Casey McGinley told Hough "there was a culture that allowed this to happen."

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