Continuing Chore : State Auditor Goes After the Cheaters

Associated Press

A Seismic Safety Commission official ran up a $5,426 tab using a state car to commute between Sacramento and San Francisco.

Almost 300 books worth nearly $6,000 are missing from California State Polytechnic University at Pomona, and a staff member says a former professor took the books and other university material.

A state employee sells state-purchased postage stamps to co-workers to build up an office "social activities" fund.

Other state workers, including a Department of Transportation employee who sells baseball caps, conducted private businesses on state time.

The state auditor general has said that he investigated those inappropriate activities and others during the last nine months of 1986.

19 Investigations

In a report to the Legislature that covered 19 investigations, the auditor said the seismic safety official used a state car to commute between Sacramento and San Francisco two to four times a week for 16 months, a round trip of about 180 miles.

The official was allowed to take the car home because he said he had to be on call 24 hours a day to respond to major earthquakes, but in his application for a "home storage permit" he listed a Sacramento home address.

The official stayed in Sacramento on nights when he had to work late, but he never lived in the city, maintaining his home in San Francisco, the auditor general said. The official said that at one time he had considered moving to Sacramento but decided against it.

The commission chairman ordered the official to reimburse the state, $1,466--one half of the mileage charges incurred as a result of using the car to commute.

The California State University chancellor was only able to recover items worth about $350 from the former Cal Poly professor, who admitted taking a few items for research purposes when he went on a leave of absence in 1984 but who claimed the other material was still in his department's library when he left.

Security Tightened

University police said too much time had passed to conduct a criminal investigation. No disciplinary action was taken against the professor because he resigned in 1986, but the university has tightened security procedures for materials in department libraries, the auditor general said.

Other cases investigated by the auditor include:

- Several cases where employees left work early or were running private businesses on state time, including one who sold baseball caps to co-workers and used a state vehicle to transport the merchandise. The employee was ordered to stop selling the hats.

- Six Department of Transportation employees who worked through their lunch hours and work breaks on weekend shifts and then left early, but claimed the time worked during lunch periods and breaks as overtime. A supervisor who allowed the practice received a pay cut for a year.

- A Workers Compensation Appeals Board employee who built up an office "social activities" fund by selling state-purchased postage stamps to co-workers and used a state telephone to conduct personal business on state time. The Department of Industrial Relations, which oversees the board, took possession of the stamps and money remaining in the fund and tightened controls over use of postage stamps, the auditor said. The employee was ordered to reimburse the state $38.56 and charged three hours of vacation for making calls on state time.

- A Highway Patrol officer took his own car to a repair shop and while at the shop used another officer's radio to talk to headquarters to make it appear he was on patrol. The officer was reprimanded for taking an unauthorized leave of absence.

None of the workers who were targets of investigations were identified in the report.

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