Hidden Camera Investigation: LA County Fire Assistant Chief Caught Drinking On The Job
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Investigative reporter David Goldstein caught a high-ranking employee of LA County Fire allegedly drinking on the job.
Goldstein’s hidden cameras captured Vic Mesrobian, an assistant chief of County Fire’s information management department, drive off in a county fire vehicle and drink beer while on duty during lunch.
His formal title, Information Technology Manager, is a civilian position that pays $124,421.48 a year in taxpayer money.
Goldstein confronted Mesrobian, who’s been with LA County Fire for 29 years.
“Is that what taxpayers are paying you to do? Go drinking on the job?” Goldstein asked.
In addition to the six-figure salary, Mesrobian gets to drive a county car – with a seal on the door. The car, which is equipped with emergency radios inside, has “Fire” clearly marked on the bumper.
Goldstein spotted Mesrobian pull into the parking lot of Luminarias Restaurant in Monterey Park.
He got out, walked inside and had lunch with two women.
Goldstein watched the waiter deliver beer bottles, which appeared to be Modelo. He saw Mesrobian pour the beer into a glass and sip from a straw.
“He could have been drinking a Michelada – a mixture of Mexican beer and tomato juice,” Goldstein reported.
The waiter took the empty bottles away and Goldstein spotted yet another round being ordered. In fact, he watched as Mesrobian reportedly drank for more than an hour.
Mesrobian then paid the bill and the three departed. Goldstein followed as Mesrobian, who was smoking a cigarette, walked to his county car.
Mesrobian drove less than a mile and headed up the road to County Fire headquarters. Goldstein confronted him once he turned into a maintenance yard and parked.
“You had two beers didn’t you? And then you’re driving the county car? Is that the responsible thing to do?”
Mesrobian didn’t reply. He walked inside the building and then returned – to get behind the wheel again.
Goldstein questioned him again.
“Is it responsible to drive? You’re driving again, man? You just had two beers. Is that the responsible thing?”
Again, Mesrobian didn’t reply.
“What do you say to taxpayers who are paying your salary? And you’re going out and doing this at lunch?” Goldstein probed further.
He drove his car into the garage and Goldstein followed. “You don’t want to talk about it?”
“I have nothing to say. That’s it,” Mesrobian said.
“Why not? Why don’t you explain what you were doing and why you were drinking on the job?” Goldstein responded.
He thought about the question – long and hard. But he still had no explanation.
“I have nothing to say,” Mesrobian said.
According to LA County Fire policy, no employee shall consume alcohol while on duty.
“Drinking and driving. Drinking on the job, of course [is not allowed]. It’s written in our manuals. So anything like that, we’d need to see the evidence and we would handle the matter internally, of course,” LA County Fire Captain Thomas Richards said.
“The evidence could be found in what you’ve just seen in our hidden camera video,” Goldstein reported.
County Fire says Mesrobian is now under investigation.