Former Chicopee City Councilor Charles Swider has been fined $1,000 for allegedly tampering with a water meter.
The water commission says the meter hasn't been read in three and a half years.
Swider says he was falsely accused and is refusing to pay the fine. He's demanding a court trial.
The alleged meter tampering occurred at R and S Paving at 10 Exchange St., a building Swider has rented for years. He says he hasn't been to the building in more than a decade but was told by the city's water department in June that he must pay a fine for tampering with the building's water meter.
"Water has been flowing through those pipes," Alfred Pinciak, clerk of the Chicopee Water Commission, told CBS3. "Someone's been using the water and it's not being paid for."
The water department asked Swider if they could replace the meters with electronic readers earlier this year. When they entered the commercial building, they found the meter had been removed and a regular pipe had been put in its place.
"There was a connection where the meter should have been and the water was flowing through the connection," Pinciak said. "They were using the water but there was no meter."
Swider was unavailable for an on-camera interview Tuesday night, but told CBS 3 over the phone that he was never told by the water department that they were unable to find a meter at the building in April until he received the letter informing him of the fine he owed in June.
In his response to the letter he received from the water department, he wrote, "… I am outraged at the corrupt and false accusations and innuendos that you cast against my good reputation without so much as a shred of proof or evidence."
He later writes, "You have decided to falsely accuse me of tampering with a water meter when we both know it is a lie."
Swider was a Chicopee city councilor for 10 years and voted against the city purchasing millions of dollars worth of new water meters. He believes his vote may have something to do with being accused of tampering with the meter. He is refusing to pay the fine and is demanding a hearing.
Swinder's letter in response to the fine will be sent to the city's law department for review.
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