NOVEMBER 07, 2007
Public employees at a county agency already in trouble for wasting more than $1 million on unnecessary equipment have stolen thousands of dollars in gift cards and entertainment tickets earmarked for foster children.
Los Angeles County’s child welfare workers used the cards and tickets—bought with tax dollars—to get themselves meals and attend musical events. Purchased by the county to supply needy kids with emergency food and essentials, many of the cards were also illegally used to pay for staff luncheons.
A four-page report published by the Los Angeles County Auditor-Controller lists shameful examples of public officials abusing the system for their personal pleasure. In one instant, the department spent $14,000 on 160 tickets to see a popular musical. In another $5,700 were spent to buy tickets for a Sunday brunch performance at a popular West Hollywood club.
One agency worker tried to conceal extra gift cards by asking the business that supplied the cards for a false invoice and another told auditors that she no longer had any gift cards when in fact she had $23,000 worth of cards.
Additionally, thousands of dollars in gift cards were purchased from vendors that offer products unrelated to the county’s program, including fancy restaurants, an upscale spa and a coffee house. This violates policy because the cards are specifically intended to help needy children and foster parents obtain essentials.
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