PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - According to a final investigation report released by the Palm Beach County Inspector General's office Friday afternoon, two water utilities employee falsified purchase orders and created invoices for more than $91,000 of water supplies. The incidents, according to the IG's office, occurred between October 2009 and March 2010.
The 9 purchases included supplies like $36,000 worth of pipes to several thousand dollars in valves.
The investigation revealed the two employees, Materials Manager Wendy Otano and Ladonna Booth, a Purchase Order Specialist did not follow proper department protocol when they ordered the items without getting them approved.
Then, according to the IG's report, in an effort to properly document the purchases, the two employees would create purchase orders after the fact. The investigation also revealed how the employees would then direct the equipment provider, HD Supply, to create falsified invoices so they could get paid.
When asked by investigators why the county employees circumvented the system, Ms. Otano replied, " to get the job done and for the citizens of Palm Beach County."
The State Attorney's office has reviewed the case and has decided not to press any criminal charges against the employees. Instead, the case is being handled by the county. It is unknown if the employees cited in the case will face any punishment. Calls to the Water Utilities Department were not returned by deadline.
During the investigation into this case, IG investigators also discovered a sales rep with HD Supply had a history of treating other county water utilities department employees to freebies like meals, a fishing trip and a golf outing. Those freebies are now part of a separate investigation.
Copyright 2010 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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