LOS ANGELES – More than 500 complaints about employees misusing city resources were made to the Los Angeles Controller’s Fraud, Waste and Abuse Unit in 2021, 14% more than the previous year, Controller Ron Galperin said Wednesday.
Of the 523 complaints, 508 cases were closed, including 14 complaints that were substantiated and 194 cases that were referred to other departments for investigations.
“Our investigations uncovered misdeeds that unnecessarily wasted public dollars,” Galperin said.
Among the discoveries were electric vehicles worth more than $384,000 that went unused for more than two years by the Department of Transportation, which had yet to secure proper charging infrastructure for the vehicles. Following the controller’s investigation, the vehicles were put into service, Galperin’s office said.
The controller also found that salaried employees at an unnamed department falsified time cards to show that they worked additional hours, totaling a loss of more than $50,000 for the city. The employees were disciplined, Galperin’s office said.
An employee at the Department of Transportation was also disciplined after an investigation found that the employee falsely reported work absences by using COVID-19 sick time, according to the report.
A Department of Recreation and Parks employee was fired for violating city policy by improperly accessing city-owned facilities to host private sports leagues without authorization, according to the report.
Another employee allegedly used the city’s electricity to charge their electric vehicle for free by using a standard wall outlet in a employee parking garage in violation of the city’s policy. That incident was also deemed a safety issue as wall outlets are not supposed to be used to charge electric vehicles.
“As the taxpayers’ watchdog, it’s my job to hold city employees and contractors to the highest possible standards. I will continue to do everything in my power to protect the integrity of our local government and defend the interests of residents by fighting back against fraud, waste and abuse of public resources,” Galperin added.
The vast majority of the complaints, 94%, were received by the controller’s web intake form and 24-hour phone hotline, according to the controller’s office. Nearly two-thirds of the complaints were anonymous.
Once a complaint is received, the Fraud, Waste and Abuse Unit does an initial review and launches an investigation. It then refers the case to a city department or sends it to law enforcement or an outside government agency.
The full report is available at lacontroller.org/audits-and- reports/fwa-2021.