PA city employee Debra Ambroise arrested for theft

Published 9:49 pm Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Another Port Arthur city employee has been charged with state jail felonies.

Two felony warrants were issued for Debra Drake Ambroise, planner with the City of Port Arthur Transit Department. She surrendered to the Jefferson County Jail around 6 p.m. Tuesday and was released after posting two $20,000 bonds, Jefferson County Sheriff Deputy Marcus McLellan said.

Ambrose is also a member of the Port Arthur Independent School District board of trustees.

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Port Arthur Police Lt. M. Blitch said a criminal investigation on Ambrose began after an internal discovery was made. She has been charged with aggregate theft by a public servant and five counts of tampering with a government record. Bond was set by Judge Ken Dollinger. Tampering with payroll records and defrauding the City of Port Arthur taxpayers of money allegedly occurred between November 2015 and April 2016.

Port Arthur City Manager Brian McDougal released a statement regarding the charges against Ambroise.

“We regret that an employee would resort to stealing from the taxpayer. It is our sincere hope to work to regain taxpayers’ trust in city employees generally and especially as stewards of public dollars,” McDougal said. “As part of that commitment no stealing of any kind will be tolerated.”

PAISD Superintendent Mark Porterie also released a statement regarding board trustee Ambroise.

“The Port Arthur Independent School District is not aware of the details concerning the criminal charges against Mrs. Debra Ambroise. The charges are unrelated to her service as a member of the PAISD Board of Trustees,” Porterie said. “The charges concern her employment with the city of Port Arthur. It is the district’s sincere hope that these issues are resolved, quickly.”

Ambroise was elected to the school board in 2015.

Porterie said the criminal charges have nothing to do with PAISD or its operations

“Although the board of trustees’ oversight of the district has nothing to do with day to day financial operations, the district will continue to ensure that its operations are open and transparent,” he said.

The ongoing, joint investigation between the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office and the Port Arthur Police Department has already identified additional offenders and corruption within the city will not be tolerated, Blitch said in a press release.

City officials, the police department and the district attorney’s office are all working diligently to bring this criminal activity to an end,” he said. “The district attorney’s office will take it into consideration any persons who come forth and cooperate with authorities prior to being approached by investigators.”