Under investigation, county employee resigns

August 31, 2009


Public Works Manager Randy Ghezzi resigned Friday amidst allegations of theft of public resources, sources said.

At a road crew safety meeting earlier today, it was announced that Ghezzi had resigned and also that the county was “negotiating with Keller,” said a road crew employee who asked to remain unnamed.

On June 1, 2009, Public Works Director Paavo Ogren placed Ghezzi and Road Maintenance Supervisor Max Keller on paid administrative leave while county and state agencies began investigating allegations the pair pirated county equipment and instructed county employees to do carpentry work at their homes while on the county clock.

Public works employees, who claim they are tired of threats of retaliation by their supervisors, have provided details to CalCoastNews of how Ghezzi and Keller have used public funds for personal gain.

Sources outline a long list of alleged misappropriations such as supervisors handing county contracts to family members. County employees also describe Keller and Ghezzi commandeering county equipment such as welders, mowers, backhoes, trucks, and trailers for personal gain.

Sources contend Ghezzi resigned in an attempt to secure his pension funds.

However, Andrea, a San Luis Obispo Pension Trust Counselor who refused to give a reporter her last name, said she was unsure if being fired for theft would affect pension benefits.

“It (pension funds) is theirs to take with them,” Andrea said. “If an employee is terminated for a crime the county could possibly pursue an action. They wouldn’t be eligible for disability benefits.”

County Counsel Warren Jensen and Administrator Jim Grant were unavailable for comment. Numerous calls to the Public Works Department were met with a busy signal.



One Comment

  1. ccn_debate says:

    Member Opinions:
    By: SillyPerfections on 10/17/09
    Randy was going to get his job back, but why would he want it? Would you want to go back to a place where your employees are out to get you? Come one people! If he was offered another job doing the same thing without a team of employees making false allegations, of course he would resign and take it! Obviously if he was guilty of wrong doing there would have been criminal charges. The fact that there wasn’t shows you he was innocent. Obviously Max was innocent as well, because he got a job back. Again, he couldn’t be the supervisor again because of the problem with the employees who brought on the investigation. Ugh. This whole thing was such a waste of taxpayer money and all it did was ruin the lives of these two men and their families. The answers are there if you look closely.

    By: elbee on 9/27/09
    During the 90’s, Max generously allowed Central Coast Little League to purchase and place a storage container on his property. He put it way, way back on his property, to store uniforms and equipment. What ever happened to that container, Max?

    By: Myself on 9/20/09
    Well it looks like thats the end of that, steel from the county and still get a job back, Gibson’s office said they didn’t know anything about it to call Pavro, like that’ll do any good, the whole place needs a house cleaning.

    By: Myself on 9/9/09
    Todays paper says Keller is back to work at a lower paying job, just who in the hell is running the county around here, do these people have pictures of county bigshots and goats or what, enough is enough, this little blow up was brought out into the open how many other problems like this do we the taxpayer bankroll, these people belong on the prisnor work crews.

    By: Cindy on 9/8/09
    hotunderthecollar, As I recall this was prompted by honest county workers and it resulted in a state investigation. While the county ie: Ogren took initial action I have to wonder if it’s over. I should think the investigators have followed up and know the score. I would continue to complain until you have satisfaction. Its difficult because so much is known only in small circles and obfuscated to the general public. Keep reporting the problems to people at the state level. In the mean time the people can start working on replacing the BOS. They are indeed not doing their job.

    By: hotunderthecollar on 9/8/09
    I am just outraged by the County. Ghezzi resigns so what! Those who love him will still love him those that don’t will still hate him. Keller has been in trouble by the county so many times he should have his own filing cabinet by now but he always comes out on top who says liars and cheats never come out ahead the county has just proved it is just the case. This two have proven once again liars, cheaters and thieves always come out on top Mr.Ghezzi may leave the county get another high paying civil servant job (oh! and do not think he won’t I am sure he already has one or he would not have resigned)sell his high priced cattle have his rentals and laugh all the way to the bank. He may be a little red faced but he has proven he is untouchable once again his kind laughs at the little people and the payback for the honest employees who blew the whistle with the county what hell they will pay everyone seem to want to rag on the dishonest civil servants but you forget about the ones that came forward after the way they were treated and threatened they still had the courage to come forward. But they will pay Mr. Ghezzi’s friends in high places or just in small power will make them pay they have let it be know they will pay and as far a Mr Keller he also comes out smelling like a rose still with the county a new job in the court house a small slap on the hand Ha Ha what a joke. That like letting the fox in the chicken house. My momma taught me a skunk just can not change his smell he will always stink. Who will protect those who where told if they did not tell what they knew they would be fired when the investigation began what about the theft what about the tax payer. But don’t paint all civil servants with the same brush not all are crooks, liars and cheats some wanted to do what was right but what do they get but the bird from the very bosses they were trying to inform. There were so many other things these two have done by why bring it up know one cares as the county has shown Now I know why the people hate civil servants but remember it’s the power broker not the little guy. They had friends in the union friends in the court house how could they loose. Mr. Ghezzi is a sly smart bird. Mr Keller is just a mean asshole. But the county has proven in the large pond shit still floats on the top

    By: yourkillingme on 9/8/09
    So it is now set in stone that a county employee can steal from the county and still keep his job. All you have to do is a little negotiating with Pavo and it is a free for all to take home county wood and then sell it, Maybe Pavo gets a cut out of the profits. Oh and not to mention its ok to store any county equipment on the Keller Ranch, three point mowers, bridge timbers, cattleguards, coulverts, or whatever else a non licesend contractor may need for his side business. Oh yes it is now ok to award a mowing contract to your stepson as long as you are on paid leave and can follow the mower in the pilot car. Oh and lets not forget county employees can also do side carpentry work for there boss but only if the tax payers of SLO county pay them on county time. The county system is working for us tax payers we should all line up for our free ride. Thankyou county management you are a real piece of work…

    By: lucky2 on 9/8/09
    If this was an employee at Albertsons they would already be a case on a DA’s desk. It is costing us tax dollars on negotiating. Please it’s true it happened, many many contractors in the area know it and have no respect for them. Bottom line it’s a crime and just because you work for the County doesn’t mean you should get a free pass and especially NOT paid leave. Shame on the mother of Keller’s boys to allow Max to drag them into it.

    By: Myself on 9/7/09
    What riles most of us up that know these two is their arrogance, they’ll talk down to any and everybody they come across and or that call to report potholes,poorly graded roads, etc, then to add appreation of county equipment and supplies to their personal stash for what ever reason, delievered by county employees and trucks is almost beyond belief, then to haul 2 or 3 loads of county property from Kellers ranch, we’re going to negotiate with him too, Bullshit.

    By: builderboy on 9/3/09
    to cayucos cowgirl about stealing from your boss, i am a carpenter in cambria and yes i have stolen things like nails, but nails are cheap. As far as max is concerned, he was stealing equipment and fuel for personal gain, now things like that are a little bit more expensive than the nickle and dimes kinda stuff that the average person might take home.

    And as far as this whole investigation goes, if anybody would have driven by the intersection of highway 1 and 46 and looked up on the hillsides, you would have seen Max and his kids putting in a spring for a local rancher, WHILE he was on this BS administrative leave. Or driving on county roads and seeing Max following his son on a mower in a pilot truck. Obviously the county was paying them. Hmmm…sounds like a little bit of a conflict of interest to me. But its ok Max is smart about it and just puts all his equipment in someone else’s name and still collects the county paychecks.

    By: hotdog on 9/2/09
    “George on 9/2/09
    Cayucoscowgirl has a good point y’all.”

    I agree too. Life is full of imperfections, it seems to me she is just pointing that out.

    But in this case it looks like we have a situation beyond stealing a few paper clips etc.

    By: George on 9/2/09
    This her point: Sorry if you did not like my post. just skip over it if you don’t like what I say instead of trying to be on the attack
    Beentheredonethat: not a good idea to troll a moderator and ignore helpful input from other people,

    By: George on 9/2/09
    Cayucoscowgirl has a good point y’all.

    By: cayucoscowgirl on 9/1/09
    to been there done?

    What did I chastize?? I did no such thing!!! I am the first to say I am not perfect.

    You are looking for a fight in the wrong place as I am not interested in that fruitless side road.

    And yes, if Randy did that, he put someone’s life in danger and that is so wrong. I see nothing wrong with stating this.

    Sorry if you did not like my post.

    just skip over it if you don’t like what I say instead of trying to be on the attack.

    By: cayucoscowgirl on 9/1/09
    Part of the problem is that people are so used to taking from employers, that now they think it is their right to help themself to free stuff from the business they work for. It is all about how you work it out in your head, (Justification process.)

    No thank goodness, I don’t have a guilty concious. If I have ever taken anything, I have beaten myself up plenty for it already and learned that it is so not worth it. I have never felt comfortable with the idea of taking anything from my employer. I have worked with many who have though. It is so much more common than you seem to be aware of or perhaps you are one of the kind who can justify taking what is not yours. I just can’t. If I don’t own it, then it is not mine to use for personal gain. If I need to use the phone for personal use, I ask first, I don’t just assume the company wants to pay for my personal call. Yeah, most employers think you are a little weird when you actually ask first, but in the end, I feel better for being honest.

    I am not going to list a bunch of statistics to satisfy your fact check on me. I am just stating an approximation on just what I have seen.

    By: CitizenCane on 9/1/09
    75% have stolen from their employer? Do you have statistics that support this or is it a guilty conscience speaking.

    By: cayucoscowgirl on 9/1/09
    be specific Rosebud

    By: CitizenCane on 9/1/09
    ref last post … what are you smoking?

    By: cayucoscowgirl on 9/1/09

    gosh, this is all so sad. Max is a really wonderful person. One of the few gentlemen I have known since we were kids. I am not saying what is right or wrong here, though as it seems he got his tail caught in a slammed door.

    People from here are different than most the city folk who have migrated here. They don’t mean it the way it comes out. But the city folk are very me, my, mine. It is just a matter of socialization and what was “learned” as in learned behavior.

    I would have to agree, IF this is true, there should be some way for the taxpayers to be repaid. If there had been an accident while using county property and damages were to result, this story could have been really sad.

    What gets me about all this is how it feels like a feeding frenzy on these two folks. Yes, if they did this, it is wrong!! no doubt. But all this outrage at these two when an entire country is being “pirated.” Where is the outrage for that. Did we not break off from England to escape over taxation and the right to religious freedom. We are right back where we started and have lost what was fought for. The prevailing attitude in this country is if you are not a theif, you are an idiot. No wonder this is happening. This situation is merely a trickle down of the example being set from the TOP. Corruption is an epidemic in this country, not just the county.

    And to all of us “do-gooders” who want to string these two up, how many of you have stolen from your boss?? If you have never stolen, then you have a right to say what you will. I bet 75% of the posters have stolen something from their employer. Late to work, take off early, using company goods for personal gain. It is not right if it is not yours to take something. Unfortunately this is SOP for most people. I know this from being a supervisor. People are gonna get theirs and yours if they can. We all need to check ourselves!

    If the story I read about Randy driving agressively and wrecklessly on the 158 is true, geeze Randy, you should check yourself. I hope that is not true.

    By: Hmmm on 9/1/09
    Seeing county vehicles and equipment roll up and down Harmony Valley Road is nothing new. This would be Keller’s second bust for misuse of county equipment.

    By: Afriendindeed on 9/1/09
    Would Ghezzi be subject to any criminal charges? Can he be arrested? It’s all disturbing to me that he can do this stuff, lose his job, but we not know anything about it.

    By: Lickadisplit on 9/1/09
    Cindy, they need to be protected from (employer’s) people with too much time on there hands and and axe to grind. This county seems to have exeeded their quota in obssesed and misguided residents.

    By: Cindy on 9/1/09
    The Tribune has the story today. We (the employers) can’t get any information as to why they were under investigation because they are civil service Employees. This BS is getting old. I think we need a ballot that does away with all civil service jobs. All public servants should be at will employees. The gov started this bullshit to gain added protection from it’s employers (us). Why? Why did we allow it? Now it takes a state investigation to stop them from covering for each other and they are still covering up. IMO

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 9/1/09
    Same on the Ghezzi cattle site also. What is with all the web sites? What are you people impling? I see no big deal looking at these.

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 9/1/09

    On the website. What are you impling? I went, looked and am a little lost. It shows Randy’s old address in Atas. where he hasn’t lived in over five years. So……….

    By: ajdury on 9/1/09

    By: Rewind on 8/31/09
    You are on the right track Cindy.


    By: WazzUp on 8/31/09
    Ghezzi and Keller thought they were beyond reproach just like Wilcox and Edge. Sooner or later it always comes back to bite you in the ass. Some people just get too comfortable and arrogant when their in control.

    By: Cindy on 8/31/09
    paperboy, I don’t think the county had any choice, but to , deal with this. The state was involved. The abuse of position demonstrated by these two was supposedly blatant. This has been going on for many years and has been reported before. It took the state getting involved to put a stop to this. I heard that Ghezzi was using county vehicles and gas to transport his cattle out of state! Many people were aware of the favors he was doing with regards to construction deals. We’ll probably hear from some co-workers with some additional information and facts.

    By: paperboy on 8/31/09
    He could be a civil service employee and thus protected in many ways from just being fired.
    It’s taken a while but it looks like the county is finally dealing with these two clowns.
    The whole truth will likely never come out either, after all civil service employees have more rights to privacy than the average bear.

    By: AA101 on 8/31/09
    “Negotiating with Keller”. What is this BS? Either he is guilty of taking advantage or he isn’t. Why do we have to negotiate with these public Employees? Working for the public should be a privilege. These BS rules that take the power from the people need to be done away with. Go home Keller, we don’t owe you anything.
    P.S. Leave your gas card on the desk.

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 8/31/09
    Resignation. It always reminds me of the same thing they do in court when the evidence is overwelming, they plead NO CONTEST.

    Sad Randy. Sad.

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