By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

An employee of the Smith River Community Services District was arrested Friday for embezzlement.

Robert Martin Walker, 33, of Crescent City, was booked on charges of forgery, grand theft, embezzlement by a public officer, theft in excess of $50,000 and theft in excess of $100,000.

andquot;It was reportedly a substantial amount of money,andquot; said Commander Tony Luis of the Del Norte County Sheriff's Department. andquot;We were called based on a suspicion that the directors of the service district had. We started an investigation that resulted in his arrest.andquot;

District Attorney Mike Riese said Detective Bill Steven contacted him at about 10 p.m. Friday with his initial investigation. Riese said evidence against Walker became stronger after the arrest.

andquot;Given the preliminary investigation, the bail was insufficient,andquot; Riese said of the $25,000 bail. andquot;That's because we believe he embezzled a substantial amount of money. I, with the assistance of Detective Steven, requested an increase to $200,000.andquot;

The service district's attorney Dohn Henion described Walker's title and function at the office as Water District secretary. Henion had no comment about the arrest.

Directors Jimmy Floyd, Ernie Silva, Keith Sellers and Susan Ramirez did not immediately return messages yesterday.

Duane andquot;Sparkyandquot; Countess, who chaired the board until his defeat in November's election, said the district held $800,000 in assets and was one of the largest liquid-asset districts in the county.