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Cooler units get local man in hot water

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

A Bandera County Grand Jury indicted Fabian Mazurek on Jan. 24 for felony theft in conjunction with the resale of air conditioning units removed from Alkek Elementary School last year "without effective consent."
According to Bandera County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Richard Smith, felony theft kicks in when the purported worth of alleged stolen goods range between $1,500 and $20,000.
Mazurek turned himself in to BCSO deputies immediately after being true billed by the grand jury and a warrant had been issued for his arrest. After posting a $10,000 personal bond, Mazurek was released from custody.
Before resigning as maintenance supervisor from the Bandera Independent School District, Mazurek, 56, had been employed with the district from March 28, 2005, through August 17, 2010.
Late last summer, the Bandera County Courier was contacted about ostensible irregularities surrounding the disposal of the air conditioning units. However, the newspaper did not report on the unsubstantiated charges of theft because no official action had been taken against Mazurek at that time. Still later, the Courier was informed that the funds garnered from the sale of the supposedly still functioning units had been returned to the school district and "everything had been taken care of."
Apparently that was not the case as Mazurek abruptly resigned his position at Bandera ISD last August. On Monday, Oct. 18, Ed Barnes, former chief appraiser with the Central Appraisal District, replaced Mazurek as director of maintenance.
According to an investigative report, the incident involved eight to 10 40-ton air conditioning units - some of which reportedly remained in excellent condition. After the air conditioning units had been removed from the elementary school, Mazurek contacted a local air conditioning company to assist with the disposal of the items. The units were being stored at the Bandera ISD maintenance yard on Highway 16. Mazurek allegedly authorized an individual from the company to sell the surplus units.
It has been reported that a former member of the Bandera ISD Board of Trustees, who requested to remain anonymous, filed a complaint about the disposal of the air conditioning units with the BCSO and an investigation was initiated.
Discussing a belief that simple monetary restitution would absolve perpetrators of criminal acts, a law enforcement officer not involved with the case explained, "If two people rob a liquor store and later have second thoughts and return the stolen money and liquor, they still have committed a criminal act that must be dealt with. It's that simple."
Current Bandera ISD policy regarding the disposition of surplus or salvage goods and equipment states: "The Superintendent or designee is authorized to declare District materials, equipment, and supplies to be unnecessary and shall dispose of unnecessary materials, equipment, and supplies for fair market value. If the unnecessary property has no value, the Superintendent or designee may dispose of such property according to administrative discretion."
"Sometimes a case like this comes down to what a 'rational person' would do under similar circumstances," Smith said. "It is often presumed that a person who has been working in a position for a length of time would know what the disposition policy is."
Mazurek pleaded not guilty to felony theft on Monday, Feb. 7. His attorney is Mark Cashion of Devine. According to court records, no pre-trial hearing has been set in the case.