Former SLO County IWMA employee charged with embezzling public funds

August 5, 2021

Former IWMA employee Carolyn Goodrich and the late Adam Hill listen as IWMA legal counsel Ray Biering reports out of closed session.

By KAREN VELIE

Prosecutors charged the former board secretary of San Luis Obispo County’s waste disposal agency with 10 felonies on Tuesday — nine for embezzlement and one for destruction of public records.

Carolyn Goodrich allegedly used an agency credit card to pay her home phone bills, shop at a home improvement store, purchase software, and pay for online services such as Truthfinder and Peoplefinder. CalCoastNews reported the allegations exclusively in 2018. Goodrich faces a maximum of 31 years in prison if convicted on all charges.

William Worrell, former chief of the Integrated Waste Management Authority (IWMA), acquired the US Bank card in 2010 without the approval of the SLO County Auditor Controller’s Office. Goodrich signed as the authorizing agent in place of the agency’s legal counsel.

The card was used to charge a total of $537,607.

A nine-month investigation by Carl Knudson & Associates and CalCoastNews found that less than 20 percent of the IWMA credit card charges and payments to US Bank had been explained.

“Of the $537,607.68 payments made to US Bank, the IWMA could only provide backup for $92,529.94, a difference of $445,077.74,” Knudson, a former IRS special agent, reported in 2018.

The investigation showed that IWMA staff used the card for video rentals, online shopping, expensive meals and a business license in Georgia. Many of the transactions which appear to be personal expenditures and not agency business, are now past the statute of limitations.

For more than a year, CalCoastNews reporters filed Public Records Act requests for the IWMA’s monthly credit card statements — something government officials appeared to have tried to conceal. After months, the IWMA provided a small portion of the request.

In 2018, it was discovered that credit card receipts for 2012 through 2016 were at the home of IWMA board member and now Grover Beach Mayor Jeff Lee. Lee returned the records to the agency, according to staff.

For decades, Worrell ran the IWMA with virtually no supervision from its governing board or the SLO County Auditor Controller’s Office, which was responsible for financial oversight, according to the Knudson & Associates and CalCoastNews investigation.

The IWMA board responded with a vote to conduct a forensic audit of the IWMA’s handling of tax dollars entrusted to it. At that time, SLO County supervisors Bruce Gibson and the late Adam Hill argued against an audit.

“There is no need for an audit,” Gibson said. “There have been no improprieties.”

Shortly afterwards, in July 2018, the SLO County District Attorney’s Office announced it was investigating the IWMA for possible fraud, prompting the board to place Worrell on leave. Shortly afterwards Worrell retired and Goodrich resigned.

As part of the criminal probe, investigators asked for IWMA credit card statements and demanded staff not destroy records, according to an email from the district attorney’s office to the IWMA. Even so, before leaving the agency in 2018, Goodrich allegedly shredded many agency documents.

Prosecutors charged Goodrich with one count of stealing, destroying or removing public records.

When Dow contacted Worrell to request IWMA records, employees brought in a large shredder and destroyed hundreds, if not thousands, of financial and spending documents, according to former IWMA interim administrator Michael Giancola. Agency officials also authorized and carried out the deletion of voluminous computer records. Much, if not all, of the data was recovered by an outside computer expert.

The IWMA was created by a Joint Powers Agreement and has a 12-member board of directors comprised of five county supervisors, representatives of each of the county’s seven municipalities and one representative for the county’s community service districts.

The IWMA board of directors voted to give stipends to members of up to $100 in Sept. 2013 for each meeting attended. Board members who accepted stipends have a legal and fiduciary duty to steer the agency towards sound financial management practices, but failed to examine or question the agency’s spending.

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OnlyinSLO

Now we know based upon this article and various others that Adam Hill was engaged in criminal activity as a Public Official. Prior to his exit he transferred his pension over to his ex-wife, Dee Torres. Now the question is will, Wade Horton as a Public Servant in charge do his job and suspend Adam Hill’s County Pension that goes to Dee Torres? There is clear evidence that Adam Hill committed criminal acts while in the course of his public duties or official capacity, thus his pension should end from that day forward. Or will Dan Dow take action and prosecute his buddy Mr. Hill in abstention thus saving tax payers money – in effect recouping what was stolen. This is the only way that Adam Hill can be held accountable at this point. Or will Dee Torres relinquish all claims to that pension in order to do the right thing?


south

State law allows a government pension to be forfeited if the individual is convicted of a felony. You can’t convict a dead person, so no felony and no forfeiture. Now ask yourself, do you really think Dee Torres is going to give the pension away considering all the wrangling she did to get it? Now, if she is convicted of said felony (possible, given the shenanigans that were going on in that household), then the County could act to get the pension back. This would open a can of worms that I am sure Rita Neal would never want open. So once again, the county taxpayer eats it. We can thank D3 voters one more time.


OnlyinSLO

Actually, you can when in particular it is in the best interest of the public. Who will defend him, 10 minute case and it will save county tax payers potentially millions in pension.