LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Multiple Los Angeles County Animal Control employees were caught on duty sleeping like a baby or lifting weights in the gym – all while not lifting a finger for taxpayers.
They’re all animal control officers for the county. Their job is to make sure dogs and cats are licensed and have their rabies shots by going door-to-door in various neighborhoods. Some of the money from the licenses is used for maintaining the animal shelters.
Fidel Perez is one of the officers. He made more than $91,000 in taxpayer-funded salary and benefits last year.
With hidden cameras, Investigative Reporter David Goldstein watched him check in at the animal control office in Norwalk at around 7 a.m. and leave to do his job – sometimes in the county car, other times using his own SUV. The office’s hours are 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. four days a week.
But on five different days, Perez was observed driving home a few hours later, hiding the car in his garage and staying most of the day.
Hidden cameras caught him at home from 9:24 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.
Goldstein obtained Field Canvas Cards, which employees use to keep a record of every home they visit.
On Perez’s card, it claimed he went to dozens of homes, showing a number of first-time calls as 82 with an additional 10 callbacks.
Although he was seen at home for more than 6 hours, his card said he worked 10 hours. Another day, he was home walking around in his shorts and was there for more than four hours.
In September, hidden cameras caught Perez having a yard sale in front of his house while being paid on the county’s dime.
“We have the smartwatches,” he said at the sale.
He was selling smartwatches and other items most of the day.
When Goldstein caught up with Perez, he didn’t have much to say.
[Goldstein: “How about the day you had a garage sale at your house? You and your wife. You were working that Saturday, weren’t you?]
“I’m not sure what you’re talking about, sir,” he replied.
[Goldstein: “You’re sure? You know what I’m talking about. Is this the way tax payer money is supposed to be spent, Mr. Perez?]
“You have to talk to my supervisor, sorry,” he answered.
Perez isn’t the only one.
Animal control officer Antonio Herrera was caught at an L.A. Fitness lifting weights during working hours. He was seen spending hours at the gym on three different days while on duty.
During of those days, he reported that he made 97 first-time calls.
Bryant Morales, another animal control officer, was also seen at two different gyms during work hours.
[Goldstein: “We see you working out at the gym. You’re supposed to be earning tax payer money, aren’t you?”]
“No, I’m working, but I’m on my lunch,” he said.
[Goldstein: “You’re working? You’re working out at the gym. You’re working on your lunch? Come on.”]
Animal control officer Steve Edwards didn’t work out, but he also didn’t do much work either.
He was seen sitting in his car at the park, shirtless or sleeping for more than four hours. His card showed 66 calls.
[Goldstein: “Mr. Edwards, how does that raise money for the animal care department and raise money to take care of animals if you’re just sleeping in your car instead of writing licenses?”]
He had no comment.
Goldstein showed the videos to Marcia Mayeda, the head of animal services, who earned more than $378,000 annually in taxpayer-funded salary and benefits.
[Goldstein: “What does this say about supervision?”]
“Well, it raises a lot of concerns,” she said.
[Goldstein: “How does something like that happen when somebody is spending hours of county time on his own time?]
“Well, it may be a failure of supervision,” Mayeda said.
Mayeda said she has referred what Goldstein uncovered to the county auditor for a complete investigation.