Selma city employee's busted for stolen manhole covers

FRESNO, Calif.

Three men were arrested. Two of them worked in the city of Selma's Public Works Department. They were in charge of maintaining city parks and streets.

Dennis Lujan, Selma City Councilmember said, "God only knows what would happen if there's manhole covers missing off of our traveled streets."

Fortunately that was not the case. The manhole covers taken did not come off the street. Detectives say they were swiped from the Selma city yard, where public works employees begin their day.

36-year-old Joshua Costas and 30-year-old Gabriel Torrez, both city employees, were arrested last Wednesday.

"They were both terminated immediately and they both have the right to appeal their terminations," said Lujan. "Totally, totally unexpected. We have a zero tolerance on theft in the city of Selma. These are two well thought of employees."

A third person, 22-year-old Edward Moreno was also taken into custody. He faces an additional charge.

Chris Curtice, Fresno Co. Sheriff's Office said, "They were booked into the jail on charges of possession of stolen property, grand theft and one of the subjects was booked on an additional charge of committing a felony while out on bail. It was an inside job it looks like."

Randy Tosi of Bruno's Recycling sees every metal object imaginable. But he was suspicious of the light stands and manhole covers the men brought in a week and a half ago so he contacted Fresno County Sheriff's Deputies.

"No homeowner is going to walk in their backyard and have a manhole cover," said Tosi. "This particular case it wasn't a demo person. Demo people have that stuff because they're ripping up roads and they're re-salvaging stuff. This was different."

Tosi figures the three manhole covers were worth fifty bucks each.

Councilmember Lujan was saddened and shocked by the arrest. He said both of the city workers were family men.

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