Our cameras caught a City of L.A. employee lighting up and smoking something out of a pipe while on duty and earning your tax dollars. What was he smoking? That is what we wanted to know.
David Goldstein: “What are you smoking here? You smoking pot or you smoking crack?”
City employee: “No I’m not. It was a cigarette.”
David Goldstein: “No, it was a pipe. You were smoking out of a pipe.”
City employee: “No it wasn’t.”
The man is a gardener for the Port of Los Angeles Harbor Department. He makes good money — $46,000 a year plus benefits.
We saw him working on 22nd Street in San Pedro at about 10 a.m. on June 21. Our camera caught him standing next to his truck, lighting up a pipe and taking a long hit while looking around, apparently to see if anyone was watching.
A few seconds later, he lit it one more time and when he pulled the lighter away from his mouth, you could clearly see him holding a pipe with his two fingers. But he denied it.
City employee: “I said it was a cigarette, like I said before.”
David Goldstein: “It was a cigarette and not a pipe?”
City employee: “Exactly.”
David Goldstein: “Come on, it clearly was a pipe.”
In fact at one point we did see him smoking a cigarette. But when played in slow motion, our video clearly shows that he was holding a pipe.
City worker: “No, it wasn’t. It was a cigarette.”
We reported what we saw to Port of L.A. officials, who called the employee in for questioning. After he told me at least four times he was smoking a cigarette, he told his bosses a different story.
Port of L.A. official: “I spoke with the individual yesterday and said to him we were told you were smoking a pipe and he said, that’s correct, he was smoking a pipe. That’s what he told me.”
David Goldstein: “What did he tell you was in the pipe?”
Port of L.A. official: “He said tobacco. He said he was smoking a pipe and it was tobacco?”
David Goldstein: “Did you know he had told me he was smoking a cigarette?”
Port of L.A. official: “No I did not.”
The conflicting stories will be part of an investigation launched because of our hidden-camera video.
The employee was ordered to take a drug test. The results will be confidential, but the port has a zero-tolerance policy for drugs and if the test is positive, the man will be disciplined.