More alarming SLO County IWMA credit card abuses

November 14, 2018


Remember when Cal Coast Times’ reporters found San Luis Obispo County Integrated Waste Management Authority’s (IWMA) employees were using the government credit card for personal expenses like video rentals, online shopping and high-priced meals? It’s just part of a much larger pattern of abuse. [Cal Coast Times]

For more than a year, reporters have used the Public Records Act to ask for the IWMA’s credit card monthly statements. Something government officials appeared to have tried to conceal. After months, a small portion of the request was provided earlier this year.

Recently, it was discovered that credit card receipts for 2012 through 2016 were at the home of IWMA board member and Grover Beach Councilman Jeff Lee, who has since returned the records back to the agency, according to staff.

In 2012, Congress passed The Government Charge Card Abuse Prevention Act, requiring safeguards for government credit cards. Unfortunately, the law’s been pretty ineffective when it comes to the IWMA’s credit card use.

Meanwhile, the people of SLO County have paid for government employee’s and a contractor’s personal expenses through their monthly trash bills.

Following the announcement of a criminal investigation of the IWMA by the SLO County District Attorney’s Office, IWMA Administrator Bill Worrell stepped down. Since then, monthly credit card bills that previously ran up to $14,697 a month fell dramatically. In September, the bill was $322. In both October and November, the IWMA charged $15.99 on its credit card.

Questionable charges

1) IWMA employees paid some of their personal utility bills.

For about six years, the credit card was used to pay multiple AT&T phone bills totaling about $1,300 a month. However, the IWMA does not use AT&T for their phone service.

One of the monthly phone bills was for a landline in Paso Robles in the name of Steven and Carolyn Goodrich. Goodrich works as an employee of the IWMA.

The IWMA office in SLO is powered through solar, lowering its electric bill to about $10 a month, according to IWMA financial records. The IWMA credit card has been regularly used to pay electric bills which appear not to be related to the IWMA. For example, the card paid a $146.94 electric bill and a $125.87 electric bill in January 2015.

2) Employees spent thousands on remodeling and decorating.

Even though the IWMA is housed in a small building in SLO, the IWMA card was regularly used to purchase items from home décor stores, hardware stores and for landscaping. In just two months in late 2015 and early 2016, those purchases totaled more than $14,700, according to monthly charge card records.

3) Employees spent thousands traveling the globe.

Worrell traveled almost monthly on the government credit card. While overseas, the card was used to shop at women’s clothing stores and to purchase foreign currency, according to charge card records.

4) Employees spent thousands on dining and entertainment.

Employees used government funds to purchase cinema tickets, home movie rentals and for dining at local restaurants, including McPhee’s Grill and Thairrific.

5) A family member of a former contractor also used the IWMA credit card.

On Oct. 11, 2017, Maurice Tenborg, the brother of Charles Tenborg, used the IWMA credit card to purchase a 60-inch by 84-inch steel floor for $678.24 from B & B Steel and Supply in Santa Maria, according to store staffers. Both Worrell and Charles Tenborg testified in court that Charles Tenborg had not worked at the IWMA since 2014.

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So why didn’t any of the committee members and board members ever catch these blatant thefts.

This is just the beginning. They were all in on it. They all benefited from the thefts. Why do you think they hired him…. Why, did they overlook Worrells past issues in san diego and in florida. The issues were well documented and known to all that help form the IWMA and hire worrell.

Why doesn’t that a-hole dow do anything about this – because these are his buddies

I hope that the investigation will look into some of the members who have been on the Board for years and may have signed off on many of these abuses.

They didn’t do anything about it because chairman Jeff Lee had the credit card Bill’s at his house.

Free Chapo on a diplomatic immunity exception. Hire him back to represent our ratepayers. I read that he has zero tolerance for thieves. He has already proven to be successful at providing for the enormous demand of products that America can’t seem to get enough of.

What criminal defense lawyers will powerhouses like Biering and Wagstaffe use? When the hunters become the hunted.

Has the Tribune or the New Times reported any of this?

Don’t hold your breath. The Trib endorsed all these thieves, they’re not about to call any attention to the evildoers. 

You can be sure Dan Dow and the FBI are moving on this embezzlement. We are talking millions.

How, how can we be sure?

Dow has done ZERO to clean up crime. Wasn’t that his big campaign promise, he was going to clean things up? I haven’t seen it, in fact he seems to run from anything CCN digs up. It’s almost as if he’s Team Hill like the rest of the bad players.

John Wallace only had to empty the coins from the ashtray in his car to pay his fine. What a joke!

This is different from the Wallace deal, every charge on that credit card is a individual crime. The charges out of state and overseas are federal offenses. The covering up by the lawyers is conspiracy. This case is already in the later stages of the investigation, expect arrests soon.

Please arrest Grover mayor Jeff Lee. He will have no problem making bail with the tens of thousands of his personal stockpile of cannabis money.

Hang in there ye of little faith, it’s going down.

Yeah right, like they did on John Wallace-little misdemeanors and repaying $70k when he misdirected upwards of $20m in ratepayer funds.

Why are these phoney trash people still walking free?

They won’t be for much longer.

will anyone be fired or criminally charged?  Perpetrators will probably be put on leave with pay and take the credit cards with them to Vegas.  

Working for government – license to steal and they feel entitled to do it.

Many of those elected/re-elected were in office and stood by as these crimes were going on, even some of them helped or at least turned a blind eye to it

This is the kind of ‘leadership’ we can expect with Caren Ray.  :(