By Mike Luery

Sewage District Raises a Stink

By Mike Luery

A San Joaquin County Grand Jury has uncovered strong evidence of dirty deeds at the Woodbridge Sewage District.

The Grand Jury found a facility flush with payroll fraud, where no one verified time sheets – and a district where employees routinely racked up $1,500 in suspicious charges each month – to purchase the same power tools over and over.

“All the employees had credit cards,” noted Gene Andal, the former foreman of the San Joaquin County Grand Jury.

“There seemed to be no limits on the use and that related to excessive purchasing of small tools and small equipment,” Andal told CBS 13.

The Woodbridge Sanitary District, located just north of Lodi, used unlicensed people to conduct water tests, then falsified the records by altering numbers and failing to report spills, according to the San Joaquin County Grand Jury report. The State Water Board is now investigating.

On The Money asked about potential concerns.

“A combination of chemicals and specifically pathogens,” stated Dave Clegern of the State Water Resources Control Board. Clegern added the pathogens are “the kind of bugs that make you sick, usually bacteria, sometimes viruses.”

“I was concerned about safety, having unlicensed personnel, untrained personnel,” said Charlie Stocker.

Residents said they are paying about $23 a month in sewage fees

“It’s a business. And if you’re going to run it like a business, you should have a budget. You should have inventory control,” Tasso Kandris, a Woodbridge resident told CBS 13.

The other problem the grand jury discovered at Woodbridge was nepotism.

“The general manager employed his son to a weed removal at $35 an hour,” Gene Andal stated.
“That would outrage the average citizen,” the Grand Jury Foreman told CBS 13.

We tried reaching Woodbridge’s General Manager Luis Ching, but he did not return any phone calls. So On The Money went to visit the district in person, where employees had little to say – and in fact slammed the door on a CBS 13 news photographer.

The Woodbridge Sanitary District is now facing maintenance violations and could face enforcement action from the State Water Board.

The District has finally installed a time clock for employees – and must now respond in writing to the allegations in the grand jury report – which must be sent to the top judge in San Joaquin County by September 20.

If you see examples of government waste, send us an e-mail to onthemoney@kovr.com. You can also follow On The Money stories in progress via Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/mikeluery

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