Under investigation, county employee resigns
August 31, 2009
By KAREN VELIE
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.