Brownsville Public Utilities Board places CEO on paid administrative leave following forensic audit report

11 months 2 weeks 1 hour ago Monday, October 17 2022 Oct 17, 2022 October 17, 2022 8:50 PM October 17, 2022 in News - Local

The Brownsville Public Utilities Board has placed the utility company's CEO, John Brucaik on administrative leave for 60 days with pay following a forensic audit showing a failed energy project that started in 2011. 

The decision was made during a meeting Monday night. 

The report found that Bruciak, former mayor Tony Martinez, and the management team at BPUB allegedly misled the city commission to keep increased rates for customers even though they knew the project was a failure.

RELATED: Brownsville PUB customers demand answers at first board meeting since release of forensic audit

"It's gonna hit people in many, in many levels, economically, health wise," Brownsville Physician Dr. Laura Cisneros said. 

"They have to choose between food and their electric bill," Dr. Cisneros said. "And so some of them have disregarded buying some of their medication, or going to taking a medication every other day."

BPUB customers want more action to take place.

"That's theft by deception by a public servant," Brownsville small business owner Ezequiel Silva said. "Now those people should be charged criminally because they intentionally, knowingly deceived the public for monetary gain."

Silva, who runs a brand-new coffee shop in downtown Brownsville, says as a business owner, he is held to a higher legal standard when it comes to handling money and wants the same applied to Brucaik and the others involved.

Kayla Taboada, a BPUB customer, says the report's findings, if found to be true, reflect a pattern of disregard for public trust within the community.  

"It's so sad because they are also part of the people, their family members are their neighbors," Taboada said. "They're done. They're gonna move on to another city, state and do the same thing, and, you know, because they are con artists, that's what it is, and, so it's just very saddening."

Along with Bruciak being placed on 60 day administrativ leave with pay, the board is giving Bruciak 60 days to be able to refute any of the allegations made against him or BPUB in the forensic audit.

The board also decided to name Jaime Estrada as interim CEO.

Estrada has been with BPUB for over 20 years, according to his LinkedIn profile.

The city commission of Brownsville will meet to discuss the audit in their own closed session Tuesday.

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