Ex-water manager charged with theft

SNOHOMISH — The former longtime manager at a private water system that serves more than 1,000 homes in unincorporated east Snohomish County is now charged with siphoning away more than $400,000 through theft.

Jesse Orvic Rowe, 75, of Snohomish, ran the Roosevelt Water Association for 25 years, ending in January.

Snohomish County prosecutors say an investigation shows Rowe illegally used water association money for years. The money paid for more than $270,000 in his credit card bills, purchased power tools and even kept the lights on at his home, according to charging papers filed by deputy prosecutor Christopher Sedgewick.

The first-degree theft charge filed Thursday in Snohomish County Superior Court was brought with aggravating factors alleging that Rowe abused his position of trust to commit a major economic offense.

That means Rowe could face extra prison time if convicted as charged.

The association distributes water purchased from the city of Everett. Its operations are overseen by a board of trustees.

The water association in June brought a civil lawsuit against Rowe, alleging fraud and conversion. The lawsuit says that Rowe was fired after financial work in preparation for construction loans turned up accounting irregularities.

Routine audits hadn’t highlighted trouble earlier, but by late 2012, the association was demanding answers to problems it had uncovered, court papers say.

The board in January confronted Rowe “about the many unauthorized purchases and conversion of (association) funds for personal use,” according to the criminal complaint. “Rowe responded saying he felt he was entitled to do this because of extra work he had been doing for the Association. He said this was an ‘unorthodox’ way of being compensated.”

During the exchange, which prosecutors say was recorded, Rowe allegedly said he hadn’t reported this compensation to the Internal Revenue Service “because what he had been doing was ‘unethical.’”

The water association’s new manager referred questions about Rowe to attorney William Mitchell, who is handling the civil case for the Everett law firm Cogdill, Nichols, Rein, Wartelle and Andrews. Mitchell declined comment on the criminal case, citing the active police investigation.

Through his attorney, Rowe denied the allegations made by the water association in the civil case. His counter claim alleges his former employer owes him unpaid wages.

Rowe has no known criminal history, according to prosecutors.

Scott North: 425-339-3431, north@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

State: Secret deal endangers Marysville Strawberry Festival

The “bizarre” agreement promises a former leader up to $175,000 if the group fails to meet his demands.

Former jail guards sentenced in dehydration death of inmate

During a mental health crisis in 2015, Keaton Farris, 25, wasted away in the Island County Jail.

County Council grills Sound Transit CEO about long timeline

West Seattle and Ballard light-rail extensions will be completed before the main spine to Everett.

‘We don’t know why he left’: Teen has been missing for 2 years

Interest in the case of Tyler Christensen, of the Edmonds area, has recently surged on the internet.

Talks to begin on emergency radio system contract

Motorola Solutions Inc. has been chosen to build a replacement for the current 911 radio system.

Mountlake Terrace woman in coma after random, vicious attack

The suspect allegedly confessed, saying he had no explanation for his actions.

Traffic circles going in on Second Street in Marysville

The work follows complaints from residents about people driving too fast down the street.

Front Porch

EARTH DAY Earth Day is Sunday. Some of the activities planned for… Continue reading

Swift Bus and van collide in Everett, injuring 2

Their injuries were described as minor.

Most Read