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Former state worker charged with embezzling job related money

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

A former employee of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy is facing embezzlement charges.

The Attorney General’s office filed charges against Joseph Pettit. He worked in EGLE’s Oil, Gas, and Minerals Division. One of his jobs was to make sure when an oil or gas well changed hands, the original owner got back the conformance bond money that was required by the state before drilling or operating a well.

Based on a Michigan State Police investigation, the Attorney General’s filed three counts of embezzlement over $100 thousand dollars, charged Pettit with using a computer to commit a crime, and four counts of uttering and publishing which basically alleges he set up a system to defraud someone.

“He actually created fake vendors and diverted the funds to bank accounts for those fake vendors to the tune of more than $850,000,” said Kelly Rossman-McKinney, spokesperson for the Attorney General.

The Attorney General’s office suspects it could have been a lot more, but the statute of limitations prevents further charges. Pettit worked at EGLE (formerly the Department of Environmental Quality) from 1996 to January of 2020.

According to court documents, Pettit will be arraigned on April 22 although the Attorney General’s news release indicates he’s expected to appear in court April 16th for arraignment.

Pettit's attorney did not return calls asking for comment.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.