Allan Klepper would like to know exactly what he is accused of doing as a Bristol County Water Authority director from Barrington back in 1996.
“An accused usually has the right to know what he is being accused of,” said Klepper. “I really have nothing to say until I know what that is.”
“I don’t want to sound like I’m stonewalling,” he said, “but I need specific data so I can respond. At that point, I have every intention of going to the Ethics Commisssion.”
“My integrity is being questioned,” said Klepper, who has been on the BCWA board since the authority's beginning in 1984.
Klepper is alleged to have been involved in some “irregularities” with an eminent domain taking of land in Warren 16 years ago.
Marina Peterson of Bristol, a water authority watchdog and head of the East Bay Patriots organization, made that allegation in a comment to a blog post on Patch last Tuesday, May 29.
Her accusation derailed the election of new board officers for the BCWA – Klepper was to be nominated for chairman of the board – when the water authority’s legal counsel suggested the board postpone the election until Peterson’s accusation could be investigated. The board agreed. See Patch story.
Peterson said after the meeting that she does not think Klepper committed a crime or broke the law, but he did not fulfill his fiduciary responsibilities for ratepayers.
Peterson said that public documents in the Warren Town Hall show BCWA took by eminent domain a piece of land owned by a former BCWA board member, Richard Alegria of Bristol, through a former company he owned, Market Street Land Corporation. A check by Patch of those records confirms that transaction in early 1996. Klepper signed off on that transaction as secretary.
She alleges that the transaction made a sizable profit for the corporation while the water authority acquired a piece of land it may or may not have needed to protect its watershed.
She believes Klepper was aware of or should have known about the questionable circumstances of the transaction with a former board member, and he should have questioned them before signing off on the document. In short, she believes Klepper did not fulfill has fiduciary responsibilities, and for that reason he should not be a nominee for the next chairman of the board.
Klepper acknowledges that Alegria was on the board with him for several years. But he believes the well-known Bristol developer and former state Senator was off the board at least several years before the 1996 eminent domain taking.
Klepper said also that he is well aware that BCWA took some Warren land by eminent domain to protect the watershed near the Kickemuit Reservoir. And he recognizes that he would have signed off on any documents approved by the board for such as a taking because he was the board secretary at that time.
But, Klepper said, Peterson still has not formally produced information for him or for the board about this particular transaction.
He said he is waiting for her to respond to a letter that was supposed to be sent to her by Pamela Marchand, executive director of the BCWA, and Sandra Mack, legal counsel to the BCWA.
“Any land we would have taken would have been assessed by an appraiser,” Klepper said, not anyone on the board.
“Until she says it is this piece of property on this date, though, I can’t respond,” he said.