JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A former JEA worker pleaded guilty to stealing from the utility company and its customers.
Police arrested Stephen Kendall Smith, 36, in July after JEA leaders noticed fraudulent activity on numerous accounts.
The State Attorney's Office says Smith manipulated customer account information between August 2009 and January 2012.
Authorities say Smith replaced the names on active accounts with fraudulent names and social security numbers. He then registered the active accounts to vacant homes.
JEA didn't have a record of the true account holder and could not collect any money, as a result.
Investigators say Smith then took money from JEA customers. He promised to pay their utility bills. Instead, he gave the customer a new account with a zero balance and a high credit rating, and kept the original payment.
Investigators say Smith stole at least 34 identities. Nine of those identities were from people who had died.
JEA says, as a result of the fraud, it was unable to collect $49,228 in bills.
Smith will forfeit his pension as a result of his conviction.
He will receive 13 months in prison and two years of probation. Smith will be sentenced in February.