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Audit: $7M In Missing Fuel May Have Gone To Gas Up Personal Cars

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — City employees may have used taxpayer-purchased fuel for their own personal vehicles after an estimated $7 million in gasoline remains unaccounted for, according to an audit released Thursday.

City Controller Wendy Greuel told KNX 1070’s John Brooks a new report appears to show at least some employees disabled a $12 million fuel tracking system that was put in place over a decade ago.

“People overrode the system that normally would tell you which vehicle it is in, how it’s being used,” said Greuel.

The tracking systems used to inventory the nearly $29 million spent on buying 14 million gallons of gasoline, natural gas and diesel fuel to power vehicles including garbage trucks, helicopters and police cruisers can be bypassed either manually or with so-called “master cards” assigned to each of the city’s 141 fuel sites.

The tools to bypass the tracking system are supposed to be used only when normal systems fail. But auditors found they were used to dispense millions of gallons of fuel over a 22-month period beginning in 2009, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Greuel said the lack of oversight is unacceptable considering both the cost and the scope of the tracking system.

“It’s unthinkable that you wouldn’t check each month,” she said. “The system was identified or put into place so that general managers on a monthly basis could identify where there were problems.”

Annually, Los Angeles spends over $460 million on commodity purchases and has more than 500 active commodity contracts, according to Greuel’s office.

The audit comes as commuters are ditching their cars for the Metro and other forms of mass transit amid record gas prices.

An unidentified man whose sister-in-law works for the city said not all public employees are as honest as she is.

“Most of ‘em are, there are a lot of crooked ones too,” he said. “Scam the money and put it in their pockets.”

Greuel is scheduled to release her audit at a news conference at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday morning.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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