LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A retired Los Angeles Department of Water employee was charged with misappropriating more than $4 million in public funds, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said Thursday.

Thatcus “T.C.” Richard, 64, of Moreno Valley, a former LADWP audio-visual technician, has been charged with nine counts each of conflict of interest, public officer crime and embezzlement by a public officer with an excessive-taking allegation of more than $1 million. He was arrested Wednesday in San Bernardino County.

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Prosecutors say Richard was in charge of managing video and audio jobs for the utility.

Between July 1996 and March 2014, Richard acted as a contract administrator on approximately 140 contracts and purchase orders between the LADWP and four outside audio-visual vendors, each of which were actually owned by close friends of Richard, according to agency officials.

The total amount paid to vendors was approximately $4.4 million, according to the LADWP, which said most of the contracts were competitively bid, making the fraud more difficult to detect. Richard allegedly prepared the bid specifications in such a way that there was very limited response and in almost all of the cases, only companies owned by his friends bid.

In return, these companies then subcontracted the work to a company owned by Richard called Top Line Communications, according to prosecutors.

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Richard is also accused of using DWP equipment and resources for his personal gain.

LADWP officials say they received an anonymous complaint, alleging Richard was using the agency’s equipment and resources for personal gain and immediately began an investigation. During the course of the law enforcement investigation, Richard retired from the LADWP on June 1, 2014.

Marcie Edwards, general manager of the LADWP, said in a statement that any employee who violates the public trust and defrauds the agency should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

“Since this investigation was initiated, we have taken significant steps to strengthen our ability to detect fraud and deter a scheme like this from ever occurring again and will take additional steps to better detect and prevent the fraud that occurred in this case,” Edwards said.

Prosecutors are recommending bail be set at $1.2 million for Richard, who is scheduled to be arraigned next week.

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If convicted of charged, prosecutors say Richard faces up to 20 years in state prison.