DEL MAR, Calif. (KGTV) -- A long-time popular manager was fired Wednesday by the City of Del Mar. Pat Vergne worked for the city for 35 years, most recently as its Chief Lifeguard and Community Services Director.
“It’s not an easy decision to make at all,” said Del Mar Mayor Terry Sinnott.
Mayor Sinnott said the city was forced to fire Vergne because he cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“We’re talking a magnitude of $150 to $200,000 that was not well-managed,” he said.
A news release from the city said Vergne’s responsibilities included handling permits for city properties like the Powerhouse Community Center. Mayor Sinnott said Vergne waived those fees instead of collecting them for the city.
Vergne’s attorney Daniel Crabtree called the city’s investigation a “witch hunt” and told 10News “all the allegations are a joke.” Crabtree argued Vergne handled the permits the way the city has handled them for more than a decade.
“Well that’s not true,” said the Mayor. “We have standing policies that have been approved by the city.”
The news release added that Vergne, “submitted false claims for pay and overtime totaling $43,000” and “hired a part-time City employee as an outside contractor to do work he was already doing as part of his regular job."
That employee was paid an extra $23,000 for work he was already paid to complete.
“We’re sad but we know we’re on the right track,” said Sinnott.
Crabtree said the investigation made his client “look like a criminal” and the investigation was an “outrageous abuse of power.” He said they are considering suing the City of Del Mar.
“That is, of course, their right and if they want to do that that’s fine. We feel very comfortable in our position,” said the mayor.
The city is considering firing two more employees possibly involved in the mismanagement.