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LA Fire Captain Accused Of Bilking Nearly $80K In Taxpayer Money

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — An L.A. City Fire captain was under investigation Wednesday, accused of padding his time cards to the tune of nearly $80,000.

The plan was to modernize the L.A. City Fire Department from manual record keeping to online tracking. It was during this switch that a red flag appeared — someone was taking advantage.

Captain Eric Vasquez, who had supervised time sheets and data entry for the department, was accused of taking nearly $80,000 that he did not earn from taxpayers.

Vasquez, believed to have had worked in the administration offices at City Hall, was on paid administrative leave pending the allegations.

“There were individuals, in fact potentially 50 of them, where it was a little off — we weren’t sure. But particularly there was one case that was potentially in the tens of thousands of dollars,” said L.A. City Controller Wendy Greul.

Earlier this year during an audit, Greul noticed several errors in his time cards.

The 17-year veteran allegedly gave himself $50,000 extra in vacation time.

“It was related to the vacation time. I think the numbers that I saw, [he] was getting 23 weeks of vacation time in year,” Greul said.

There was another $27,000 in overtime and bonus pay that he allegedly did not earn.

Gruel believes that managers should have caught it.

“This is first big one I have had as city controller. To make sure never happens again, to see where risks were,” she said.

Gruel says the city wants transparency to restore public perception and integrity. Other departments will be investigated as well.

The fire department officials said they were unable to comment while the investigation was still ongoing.

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