Local plumber charged with stealing gas from utility
Updated 2:38 pm, Wednesday, September 20, 2017
FAIRFIELD — The owner of a local plumbing company allegedly illegally piped in gas to his High Meadow Road home after his service was shut off for non-payment of his bill.
Todd Flanagan, 45, president of Ray Flanagan Plumbing and Heating, was arrested on a warrant Sept. 14 and charged with fourth-degree larceny, first-degree reckless endangerment, risk of injury to a minor, and second-degree criminal mischief.
According to the police report, there was no pressure regulator on the illegal bypass pipe, and gas was flowing into the home at an unregulated rate.
Police said Flanagan denied having anything to do with the illegal piping and said he relied on the propane tank from his gas grill to provide heat to his home during the winter. A call to Flanagan for comment was not returned.
The problems began, according to police, in January 2015, when the Southern Connecticut Gas Co. discovered that Flanagan had not been billed for gas service since Aug. 13, 2012, and he was sent a bill for $4,844, based on the meter reading. The utility company told police that Flanagan was offered a payment plan, but he refused to pay.
When payment was not received, the gas service to the house was turned off June 8, 2015. During an inspection, gas company employees discovered the lock on the service line had been tampered with and the service valve reopened. The meter was secured, and the service again turned off.
The utility company was back at the property in February of this year, and the meter removed from the house.
On June 9, a gas company employee discovered the locking device cut off and the curb valve open. The service valve on the property was buried underneath some mulch and the illegal bypass installed.
Police said the utility did not consider Flanagan’s actions criminal, until the illegal bypass was installed.
Detectives attempted to contact Flanagan several times but were unsuccessful until they heard from Flanagan’s attorney. Flanagan said he had been running the family’s plumbing business for 22 years, since the death of his father. He allegedly told police he knew he was responsible for the gas bill,but thought his wife was paying it. He also said they had stopped receiving any bills.
While he was capable of installing the bypass, Flanagan told police, he didn’t do it, and claimed the gas company had made the connection. He said he himself had done work for the gas company on previous occasions. According to the company, Flanagan’s company was never under contract with the utility but may have received “less than five” referrals for work on hot water heaters owned by homeowners, not the utility.
On July 21 of this year, Flanagan did pay the entire bill owed to the utility, $9,770. However, the gas company says Flanagan owes $1,855 for repairs to damage they claim he caused.