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After Serna-Mayorga’s Arrest, Questions Remain About City Hall Safeguards

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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The day after police arrested a former aid to the mayor for misuse of a city credit card, the district attorney’s office has decided not to press charges against a second former city official.

After Tuesday’s arrest and Wednesday’s development, the police investigation appears to be over, but there are still plenty of questions about whether there are enough safeguards in City Hall protecting Sacramento taxpayers.

Chris Lehane, an advisor to Mayor Kevin Johnson, offered the first on-camera remarks from the mayor’s inner circle since the arrest that rocked City Hall.

“The mayor and his team from the very beginning were making sure people were accountable and the taxpayers were well represented,” he told CBS13 on Wednesday.

But in the mayor’s only public comments since Lisa Serna-Mayorga’s arrest for improperly charging more than $20,000 on her city-issued credit card, he chose to write “our thoughts are with her family” without any mention of taxpayers.

“It’s easy to give an antiseptic comment, that we’re very proud that we fought for the taxpayers’ dollars,” Lehane said. “Nobody is really going to take that all that seriously. The fact the we say we care about this person, she made a huge mistake, we care about her – hat’s what a human being says.”

The mayor isn’t alone in his affection for the Serna family. Vocal critics of the mayor didn’t want to comment on the arrest, saying it was too sensitive. Even union leaders representing city employees turned down our requests, telling us “it was piling on.” We went to Serna-Mayorga’s home Wednesday but nobody answered the door.

“This is someone who was a staff person to the mayor, someone who he knew personally, a family who many of us know well, and who as a family has done incredible things,” Lehane said.

The only person we found in City Hall willing to talk was the city auditor.

“It’s always tough to catch the actual person that intends to defeat the controls,” Jorge Oseguera said.

But Oseguera said new safeguards are in place to try to stop improper conduct.

Oseguera said city-issued credit cards have decreased by a third, and in response to the Serna-Mayorga investigation, his office has audited City Hall staff credit card statements.

“We will continue to work with them to make sure the controls are put in place that are necessary to deter these types of activities from happening in the future,” he said.

As far as the investigation of the second city employee, Keith Hart, the DA’s office said it didn’t find criminality in a few improper charges that were paid back.

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