District receives reimbursement

Joel Vargas-Hernandez
Photo courtesy Riverside County Sheriff’s Department

Joel Vargas-Hernandez, 28, of Mead Valley, who was arrested in September for the theft of water from the Pine Cove Water District, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for vandalism on May 17.

However, one of the terms of the plea bargain was he reimburse the water district $21,335. This is for the water taken and repairs of the hydrant, which was damaged. Vargas-Hernandez used the water for an illegal marijuana plantation in the San Bernardino National Forest.

Pine Cove General Manager Jerry Holldber deposited the check on the same day as the court hearing and complimented the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office for its effort to obtain the cost of the water from the defendant.

When PCWD discovered the water theft, Holldber estimated that more than 2.3 million gallons of water was taken and its value exceeded $17,000.

Vargas-Hernandez, who has had been released on bail in September, was also sentenced to two days in the Riverside County jail.