Audit catches $36,000 in overpayments to fired Oceano manager

July 29, 2013
Tom Geaslen

Tom Geaslen

By KAREN VELIE

Tom Geaslen, recently terminated for cause as Oceano Community Services District general manager, paid himself more than $162,000 a year even though he was only contracted to make $126,000 a year, an audit of the district’s finances discovered. The audit also detailed significant increases in spending at the district under Geaslen’s leadership.

Shortly after the overpayments were discovered during the audit, board officials reported the payments to law enforcement, sources close to the investigation said.

Geaslen’s contract places his base salary at $126,000 a year. He should have written himself checks for $10,500 a month but instead paid himself a salary of approximately $13,500 a month. The extra payments were not discovered because Geaslen stopped placing payroll disbursements details in the board packages, the audit noted.

The district had made such disbursements public for years, but Gealsen stopped the practice, which helped to hide the overpayments.

Geaslen did not request or receive board approval to increase his salary above his contracted rate. Because Geaslen’s budget for the district “was not presented in sufficient detail,” the board did not know when “resources have been overspent in certain areas, thus not being available as needed in other areas,” the audit says.

The district is a multipurpose special district with a focus on water, sewer, garbage and lighting. The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors makes planning and development decisions for the district.

Under Geaslen’s management, spending increased because of higher consultant costs, salary overpayments, the creation of two new positions bringing the staff from seven to nine employees, and additional spending on items such as shirts for staff and office painting.

In the fiscal year ending June 2012, the district had $1,360,558 in operating expenses, an almost $100,000 increase in spending from 2011.

During his almost two-year tenure, Geaslen, repeatedly told the board that the district was in great financial shape and that the district’s previous manager Raffaele Montemurro’s claims of impending financial shortfalls were inaccurate. However, under Montemurro’s leadership the district had almost $100,000 a year in excess revenue. Even with an increase in water and sewer rates in 2012, under Geaslen’s management the district had only $8,600 in excess revenue in the fiscal year ending June 2012.

The yearly audit completed by Caliber Audit& Attest, LLP notes that the inaccurate reports of financial health were attributable to Geaslen’s “understatements of liabilities and overstatements of assets.”

On April 16, the district board voted to fire Geaslen for cause.

As part of a settlement agreement, Geaslen paid the district back $36,962 shortly after he was fired. The board and Geaslen also agreed to not discuss the nature of the dispute or make disparaging comments about the other party. Board officials have not returned requests for comment.

Geaslen first started working for the district in June 2011, a month after his predecessor Montemurro was terminated without cause and provided a severance package.

In his application for employment, Geaslen said he was the head of Titan Lending and also a tax preparer with an IRS enrolled agent status. That credential indicates special skills in tax matters. He boasted that because of his financial background, he could help the district reach financial health and finish three out-of-date audits.

 


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hijinks2

Ho hum. Government screws up. Again.


Nothing shocks me anymore about SLO County government.


When Edward Snowden came forward with “news” that the U.S. government has been monitoring phone calls and emails to astonishing degrees, the nation reacted with the to-be-expected, exactly appropriate levels of outrage. “Our civil liberties are being violated!,” cried every overly-made-up anchor from his/her respective national news pulpit. “Injustice!,” decried protesters. “Big Brother is watching you!”


Well of course He is.


And how is this news? In an era when private companies can, for a fee, access your personal Tweets to better target your business, how is anyone, anywhere shocked that our government – one of the most powerful entities in the world – also has access to (and uses!) geospatial social media mapping?


Ho-hum.


If you wanna impress me, you’re going to have to do better than that, Snowden. Give me something I can use, buddy. Because the feds monitoring my gmail? Not raising my eyebrows.


Corruption in San Luis Obispo County, what a surprise! Inept officials or leaders committing or allowing misconduct to occur right under their very noises is not new in this area. All one has to do is review this website to see a hundred articles about local government corruption during the past two years from the Paso Robles Sex scandals of Chief Chitty to the misappropriation of city assets for personal gain by Ronald Faria, Public Works Inspector at the City of San Luis Obispo to Supervisor Gibson keeping his concubine on the County payroll. Scandals, misconduct, abuse of power and authority, theft of agency assets for personal gain are so common and rampant in the county it is a who’s on first, what’s on second, who’s doing who, who didn’t still what scenario.


The sex scandals in Paso Robles, Supervisor Gibson’s office, the waste water treatment plant at Paso Robles and SLO town are legendary.


And did I mention that Anthony Weiner is running for office again? If you needed a little action while at work, you could simply knock on the door down the hall and things opened up – ooh what a horrid reality of local government.


So yeah…


It’s not the first time we’ve caught the government, pants down, with its foot in its mouth and its hand in the cookie jar.


You want to surprise me?


Show me the opposite if there are any worth mentioning!


MaryMalone

Really? The “every-body-is-doing-it” excuse for giving political corruption a free pass?


Did you ever try to use that excuse to your parents when they caught you doing something wrong? I bet they didn’t just pat you on the head and say “oh, that’s all right then.”


All corruption is “worth mentioning.” It is the people who try to excuse away their own corruption with the corruption with the “well-every-body-is-doing-it” excuse who enable and embolden corrupt politicians to continue and escalate their corrupt behavior.


SanSimeonSam

Hey, we shouldn’t do anything about this…..It will cost the taxpayers more in court fees to put a criminal in jail than it would to pay him another 100,000 and let him go on his merry way. Oh no we can’t ask the District Attorney to work on this.


cch

It makes me sick to my stomach that I have to send these people money every couple months…


FORREAL

I wish someone here would contact me regarding my fiasco with OCSD and my moms estate. She passed away in February, 2012 and I paid the water bill that I found on her table with her other bills she was in the process of paying, and I paid the next months as well, as we used water for cleaning. I had contacted them when she first passed away but continued to get water bills for months when no water was used, that I finally sent back marked deceased. They charged her estate over $600 and NO ONE LIVED THERE. NO WATER WAS USED. In order for the new owners of the property to get water turned on, I had to pay the bill out of my own pocket. This is abuse of the deceased.


StatusQuoJoe

You should call JulieTacker, I bet she has some ideas for your case. I think she’s in the book.


FORREAL

Thank you for the assistance; I will try to reach her. The funny (?) thing about my problem with OCSD is that the first time I called them, to tell them I had found a bill on my moms table and to let them know I would be taking care of it, I was told to email Mr. Geaslen and “ask permission” to pay the bill late. Which I did…but I remember thinking how strange that was. My mom was deceased. I was paying the bill, and I had to ask permission to be a few days late on a bill that a week before hand, I had no idea I would have to squeeze into my budget? I thought something was strange then; now I know for sure.


DennySLO

I’m not an attorney however is this or is this not embezzlement? The reporting indicates that the Sherriff’s office was involved……So, if he was writing checks to himself and only after an audit the board officials reported the over payments to law enforcement, then why was there no arrest for this obvious embezzlement of funds?

I just don’t understand as a law abiding citizen how this is possible…….Oh, the answer is, geez I guess my pen slipped and wrote out the wrong number on that check(s)….


OnTheOtherHand

I am guessing that the ~$37K that he had to repay during his departure settlement was probably to cover the overpaid salary + interest. (I am guessing because it has not been made clear here if that was the case.) I do agree that it constituted embezzlement and should have been prosecuted but maybe the OCSD decided that it was better to get the money back without fighting for it over a long period of time by not filing charges.


Given how much they have screwed up in hiring and supervising managers over the past few years, they may just figure it is easier to get this off their plate now and move on. Hopefully, they have learned a lesson about their obligations to the citizens of Oceano and do better in the future. (I wouldn’t bet on that though.)


CherieMcKee

OCSD legal bills nearly total the funds returned over the last few months, Tacker continues to go to the podium calling it “Geaslen Collateral Damage.” The attorneys were caught up in the mess, by running background checks on the citizens, they are as much to blame as the board and they bill to clean up the mess. Geaslen clearly had no oversight. Except for the few members of the public who were watching, speaking, criticizing…but ignored.


MaryMalone

It is my understanding that the Sheriff’s decided not to charge him.


Did I mention that Geaslen’s wife is/was Supervisor Teixeira’s assistant? And that Geaslen was Teixeira’s campaign manager for Teixeira’s run for the county supervisor’s position?


StatusQuoJoe

Is this really the guy who should be handling the Memorial Benefit for Paul’s family?


http://www.ksby.com/news/friends-host-memorial-barbecue-fundraiser-for-late-county-supervisor-paul-teixeira/


SLOBIRD

OMG, has this man no shame. What do these people think. I m so sick and tired of our politicians, government management thinking they are above the law and can do as they want and no matter how wrong, they don’t care. I’m sure he will said it is all “phony”, the new word for get out of my face.


StatusQuoJoe

http://www.timespressrecorder.com/articles/2013/07/05/news/featurednews/news50.txt


“The grand total I believe Paul Teixeira raised, from the time he was in his 20s and got out of Cal Poly, was $11.2 million,” he said.


Believe me, not to discredit Paul at all, it’s Geaslen that has trouble with the truth and apparently with math too. This statement made at the funeral is difficult to believe. I’m no genius, but lets say Paul did raise $11.2 Million over 30 years, that’s $373K annually, or $31K every month of every year since 1983.


What charities benefited? The Geaslen Benevolent Fund?


South County loves you Paul, but Geaslen looks a fool.


Justducky

Ya know, Joe, I just can’t take it any more. I’m going to have to speak up. Not all of South County loved Paul. I’m sorry, but it’s true and I think I’m going to throw up if I have to hear the good ol’ boys continue to heap false praises on this guy just because he died. We’ve all been biting our tongues because no one is supposed to speak ill of the dead. Please stop tempting us!


I am sick of listening to made up stories of what Paul did for the South County. It is a terrible reflection on the South County for those who know the truth. It makes everyone down here look like liars. Will you people please just stop! It’s disgusting!


Say he was a good father, a good friend and a nice teddy bear of a guy, but please stop all of the other stuff. It’s really beyond belief.


danika

Just another “phony” scandal, hmmm?


SanSimeonSam

Of course he is. I am sure he will be taking in all the contributions to the memorial fund. He will probably use the money to buy diapers and plastic utensils, sell them to Assbaugh, Biz, Dee T and that malignant dwarf Adam Hill at a 5 % mark up and those good folks will then have plenty of wares to sell to the homeless at 25% profit. I mean even big city slimey politicians are at least discrete about their crimes. Our filthy politicans are “in your face”. And of course they can be as we do nothing


TacomaRose

Wouldn’t it be great to see our DA step up to the plate and start prosecuting some of the corruption that goes on here in the happiest place in the world.


Is that to much to ask of Mr, Shea?


They recently formed a federal task force to hammer the corruption in Orange County and I would like to see our own county get some task force attention as well.


http://www.publicceo.com/2013/07/fbi-spearheads-task-force-to-probe-oc-political-corruption/


OnTheOtherHand

Shea take on a politician? Save your dreams for a therapist. He has been an enabler for the system of political corruption in this county since he took office. The only prosecutions he is interested in are those that make him look good to those worried about violent crime or people without the resources to put up a good fight. He would only pursue people with power and/or wealth if the crime was so egregious or the guilt so obvious that the general public put up a huge outcry. Given the puff-piece reporting of the big local news sources, that rarely happens.


ShootTheMessenger

This was an INTENTIONAL act carried out with purposeful deceit and absolutely positively should be punishable with JAIL time! What you say DA Shea?


DemandTransparency

Financial information (payroll reports) was being withheld during the OCSD’s public board meetings?


Who is in charge of payroll that let these multiple overpayments happen? Isn’t there an office manager on the OCSD staff that processes payroll? Isn’t that office manager related to the current Board president Matt Guerrero?


Where was the transparency in payroll if the Board allowed Tom Geaslen to hide the bi-weekly payroll figures from the total Cash Disbursement reports? Information that was submitted BEFORE Tom Geaslen showed up and coincidentally happens to be included again once Tom Geaslen was shown the door?


Why is the Board signing payments to things they clearly don’t understand, know anything about or even bother to research?


Who the heck is in charge around that place? Clearly not the Board!


Interesting that someone with a financial background (Tom Geaslen) could see the weaknesses of the District (lack of financial oversight by the board) and could manipulate a staff member related to the Board president (Marie McGrath is Matt Guerrero’s aunt) and get himself overpaid every single pay day once he went from being a contracted GM to being a paid employee.


The same guy that was hand-picked by Supervisor Teixeira for the job.


Makes ya wonder how a Supervisor’s campaign finances would fare with some auditing and scrutiny. As they say . . . “follow the money”.


Jorge Estrada

?