The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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December 6, 2012

Illegal water tap leads to big bill for Westmoreland County man

DERRY — A Westmoreland County man thought he’d figured out a way to avoid getting charged for public water to his mobile home, police say.

Now, he may have to repay $1,700 in back bills - and faces theft charges, state police in Greensburg said.

Eric S. Harris of Derry allegedly got away with the scheme for two years by connecting his trailer to a water main, while bypassing his water meter, Trooper Matthew Myers said.

But after awhile, the Derry Municipal Authority noticed the Superior Mobile Home Park had used more than 116,000 gallons of water than was being billed and paid for, so they sent a $1,700 bill to the park’s owner, Charles Fenell, state police said.

“Fenell then individually checked all of the residences at the trailer park, finding (Harris’s line) had been tampered with,” Myers wrote in an affidavit.

When investigators arrived, Harris confessed to hooking up the line to dodge the monthly bills, Myers added.

He now faces theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property and criminal mischief charges damaging the line, police said.

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