Cuesta College settles whistleblower lawsuit

April 17, 2024


Cuesta College will pay more than $70,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging retaliation against a whistleblower who came forward alleging misappropriation of public resources, according to sources involved in the case.

Filed late last year, the lawsuit describes employees stealing gas and having their personal cars repaired and maintained at the campus auto repair shop at taxpayers’ expense. After former maintenance employee Andrew Kranes reported the illegal acts, management allegedly retaliated.

Cuesta College agreed to settle the lawsuit for slightly more than one year of Kranes’ salary. Kranes quit working for Cuesta College on April 10 as part of the settlement agreement.

The suit also exposed a perceived web of nepotism at the campus with Kranes’ former supervisor Robert Richerson married to the vice president of human resources Melissa Richerson; Cuesta College President Jill Stearns married to the head of information technology Keith Stearns; and general maintenance employee Preston Federico married to human resources employee Stephanie Federico.

Kranes filed the lawsuit late last year against Cuesta College, President Jill Sterns, Robert Richerson, Melissa Richerson, Preston Federico, Daniel Troy, Elizabeth Coria and Brian McAlister.


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This is just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve heard so many similar stories of harassment and mismanagement from employees in a variety of departments, and as a result, employees are unhappy, morale poor, turnover astonishingly high. It would be nice to know how much was spent on lawyers for defending against this lawsuit as well as the costs of investigation.

As an informed tip….it would be a good idea for someone to do audits of current construction projects as well as credit card usage of both the CalCards as well as Foundation credit cards.

The iceberg melts from the top first…or if you wish, the fish rots from the head down. Start with the top, move on to human resources.

Where is the $70K coming from, public funds? Personally, I don’t care whose vehicle gets used as a practice for education. The $70K should be paid from monies allocated for the homeless while at the same time provide them a location on campus to mitigate the budget short fall.

This is nothing but par for the course. I know a guy who used to work for the State and they were told to throw perfectly good power tools into the trash so that they could order new ones next year. Don’t spend it, can’t ask for more. It’s a shame. No incentive to save the tax payer any money.

So Kranes is the one giving up a job that has benefits and a retirement program? Seems like the wrong person is being punished.

Can’t continue to get publicly funded gas and auto maintenance with him still there.

Welcome to the public sector and entities that receive taxpayer funds. Plus dont expect this misuse of taxpayer funds to stop. Those in charge will just sweep this under the rug and go about business as usual.

I think the rats at Cuesta used a $70,000 broom to sweep up the mess.

Where is our District Attorney and Grand Jury?

Thanks Karen, for reporting this to the public, I know how I’m voting next time a bond is on the ballot for Cuesta College.

Not to worry, isn’t the last Cuesta bond still on our property tax bills for several more years/decades? Don’t hold your breath waiting on the Grand Jury or DA, until our Grand Jury is reformed and given the ability to issue indictments instead of just suggestions it is worthless.

My thought as well. Isn’t this the type of situation that grand juries are look into?