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Former Michigan EGLE Employee Sentenced For Embezzlement

LANSING, Mich. (CBS Detroit) -- A former Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) employee is sentenced to one year in Ingham County Jail and three years' probation after pleading guilty to embezzlement a few months ago.

According to the Michigan Attorney General's office, Joseph Pettit pleaded guilty in September to two counts of embezzlement over $100,000 and one count of uttering and publishing.

Pettit will also forfeit his state pension in accordance with the Public Employees Retirement Benefits Act and be responsible for paying full restitution in the total of $855,690.

"State employees serve the many operations that keep Michigan running for our millions of residents," said Attorney General Dana Nessel. "Abusing that responsibility will not be tolerated by my office. I appreciate the hard work that went into securing the plea and, ultimately, accountability for Mr. Pettit's egregious acts."

In Michigan, any organization that wants to drill or operate any type of well has to apply for a permit and post a conformance bond with EGLE's Oil, Gas and Minerals Divison. When the owner changes hands, the bond goes back to the original owner.

Officials say as an EGLE employee, Pettit was responsible for releasing and facilitating the transfer of bonds back to the original owner. However, Pettit instead created fake vendors and diverted the money to bank accounts that he supplied for the vendors.

"There are no winners here, least of all Michigan EGLE's 1200-plus public servants who exemplify the highest standards of ethics and are disheartened to learn a coworker violated those principles," said EGLE Director Liesl Clark. "We are doing all we can to prevent any reoccurrence of this type of incident, including strengthened internal financial controls that provide greater checks and balances against fraud."

Pettit worked for EGLE from 1996 until January 2020.

EGLE officials became aware of possible discrepancies in September 2020 and contacted Michigan State Police, which conducted the investigation.

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