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City Audit: Employee accepted thousands of dollars in gifts from private vendors

Posted at 5:26 PM, May 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-20 20:27:31-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - An employee with the City of San Diego is accused of accepting thousands of dollars in gifts from private vendors. On Wednesday, 10News learned from the Office of the Auditor that the employee is still working for the City and the two vendors still have active construction contracts with the City.

“Most people know you don't take gifts from a vendor and then turn around and give taxpayer assets to that vendor,” said Audit Committee Chairman and City Councilmember Scott Sherman during an interview on Wednesday following a presentation of the City Auditor’s findings.

According to the City Auditor, the employee received more than $3,000 in gifts from two vendors and failed to disclose some of those gifts or under-reported their amounts. The City Auditor also revealed that the employee awarded option contracts worth millions to the vendors and then covertly advised the vendors to increase their revenues on City contracts.

“It’s blatantly obvious that it wasn't ethical, [it] probably wasn't legal and more importantly [it] wasn't right,” added Councilmember Sherman.

The allegation came into the fraud hotline as a tip five years ago and was then sent to the FBI and then to the City for further investigation. “It's kind of absurd that the first complaint came in 2015 and we're just now getting it five years later to Council,” he told 10News.

The City Auditor claims that the employee was accepting gifts like a paid trip to attend a professional sporting event in San Francisco, free contracting work performed at his home, two tickets to a Las Vegas show, annual entry fees to a golf tournament and amusement park tickets for his family.

The names of the vendors and the employee are being withheld. “The individual probably never will [be revealed] because it's a personnel matter unless it gets a criminal investigation. I’m hoping [the vendors’] will be out there fairly soon but we'll see,” he added.

The report will next go in front of the full City Council to see what action can be taken.

Councilmember Sherman told 10News he’s also considering sending the findings to the City Attorney’s Office or the District Attorney's Office to review whether they can press charges.