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Someone Who Used to Work for California’s Water Agency Admitted to Planning to Steal Water From an Irrigation Ditch


FRESNO, Calif. — It was agreed upon by federal attorneys in California’s crop-rich Central Valley that a former water official would plead guilty to planning to steal water.

Fox News says that Dennis Falaschi, 78, who used to be the head of the Panoche Water District, entered the plea in federal court in Fresno on Tuesday. He also admitted that he had filed a fake tax return.

More than $25 million worth of water was stolen over 20 years, according to the case against Falaschi. The water was taken from a federal irrigation canal through a secret pipe and sold to farms and other water districts. A lot of the water that the Panoche Water District uses to water farms in Fresno and Merced counties comes from the government Delta-Mendota canal.

In court papers, the police said Falaschi wasn’t the only one drinking, but they didn’t say who else was drinking. They thought Falaschi stole less than $3.5 million in water, which is a small amount of what they said he stole at first.

California has been trying for years to reduce water use by passing a groundbreaking law to control groundwater pumping, telling people in cities to replace thirsty lawns with landscaping that is better for dry years, and stepping up efforts to store more water to help the state get through the coming dry years.

After farmers had to drill deeper for water because of overpumping, the state took steps to lower the use of groundwater. This was done because some country wells ran dry. Farmers in California, who grow a lot of the country’s fresh food, are worried about the idea of pumping limits.

Falaschi is going to be sentenced in September. He has agreed to help federal prosecutors with any other probes. After the meeting on Tuesday, he refused to talk to the newspaper.

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