Report shows abuses in city Department of Public Works - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Report shows abuses in city Department of Public Works

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

New reports from the city Inspector General's Office say allegations of fraud, waste and abuse in the Department of Public Works are in fact "substantiated."

The allegations are against DPW employees in two separate divisions. They include leaving work early without permission, spending excessive time on a city computer on social websites, using a city cell phone and work truck for personal matters and falsifying records. All of those things would waste city taxpayer dollars.

We still don't know exactly what happened to the two employees at the heart of these investigations.  All spokespeople for both the Department of Public Works and the mayor's office would say is that these kinds of allegations are taken seriously and appropriate personnel disciplinary actions were taken.

One report deals with an employee who maintains city trees in the Urban Forestry Division.

The complaint claims a DPW truck was parked outside of a Sutherland sports store in Dinwiddie County in late August and the next day it was spotted a few miles away at Whippernock Marina.

When confronted by the investigator, the employee said he was at a seminar at the store with his fiancée and then had his boat hitched to the back of the city vehicle.  He claimed he was told he had unrestricted use of it while on call, when in fact he was only authorized to use the truck for official city business.

In another case, an investigator charted a DPW employee's computer and cell phone data for several months this year. The report shows visits to Facebook, horoscope, Craig's List and Comcast. The Public Works supervisor says she would sometimes lose track of time while on social websites and chatting with her children online.

The investigator found almost 5,500 personal minutes, including about 4,000 split between calls to the woman's boyfriend and family. All were made on a city issued cell phone.

Also, the employee was doing this, while she was supposed to be making on-site visits to supervise cleaning crews at city facilities. The report says she admitted to not meeting those requirements and falsifying her timesheet for over a year.

The Office of the Inspector General recommended disciplinary action against the employees, which the city said has been done.

A prosecutor in the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office says they're aware of the report but cannot comment on whether criminal charges are appropriate.

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