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Former Drainage District Chairman Accused of Theft

Sep 15, 2015

The former head of the Green Bay Levee and Drainage District in southeast Iowa stands accused of falsifying public records for personal gain. Mike Pieper has been charged with one count of 1st Degree Theft and one count of Felonious Misconduct in Office.

Lee County Attorney Mike Short filed the charges against Pieper this month. Pieper turned himself in to the Lee County Sheriff's Office Tuesday morning.

According to court records, Pieper informed his fellow board members, in 2011, that MEPCO, a company he owned, would submit a bid on a levee restoration project the district was undertaking. MEPCO was awarded the roughly $1.75-million contract, which was to be paid with tax dollars and FEMA money.

Fellow board member Mike Walker sent an email to Pieper and several others on June 25, 2012 regarding his finding dirt on the levee that came from property owned by Stephen Hoth and Kenneth Floyd. Neither man authorized the use of the dirt for the project.

The roughly 31,000 cubic yards of dirt used had an estimated value of $93,000.

County Attorney Mike Short alleges that on June 28, 2012, Pieper altered the minutes from a previous meeting to show that his company had received permission from the levee and drainage district board to remove the dirt and use it on the levee.

But the investigation into the incident revealed that an original draft of the minutes did not include the motion authorizing MEPCO to use the dirt. A video recording of the meeting also failed to mention the motion in question.

Stacy Weber with the Lee County Sheriff's Office and an FBI agent handled the investigation at Short's request. They said Pieper admitted to not hearing any discussion about the dirt resolution on the video recording.

But he said "his girls" did hear the motion and approval. It's unclear in the court records who Pieper is referring to with that statement.

The investigators also met with the heavy equipment operators who moved the dirt in question. They said they were working under the directive of Pieper.

Pieper was released from the Lee County Jail a short time after arriving on Tuesday on a promise to appear. He is due in court in Fort Madison on Oct. 1.