Whistleblowers led to investigation

Dave Bartlett
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City sources say expensive watch was a red herring

An investigation is underway into the possible misuse of purchase orders at the St. John's municipal depot. - File photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram

Sources at the City of St. John's tell The Telegram an investigation into questionable spending at the City of St. John's depot was sparked by whistleblowers who urged the city to investigate purchase orders.

Earlier this month, the city's internal auditors and senior staff began looking into questionable purchase orders with a total value of at least $100,000.

According to the sources, at least a couple of items - a water fountain and a toilet - were things that normally wouldn't be purchased through the depot.

Other items, such as landscaping chemicals, are not even normally used by the city.

Rumours were swirling Thursday that an expensive watch was also bought and that's what sparked the investigation.

The individual purchase orders being examined are said to be for items costing less than $350, while the watch cost more than that.

But sources say while a watch was discovered, there's no indication it was bought using city purchase orders.

There is no indication that more than one person was responsible for the alleged inappropriate spending.

The employee being investigated retired after the probe began, but is said to have worked for the city for a long time.

When news broke that an investigation was being conducted, the employee was reportedly off on sick leave.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents workers at the city depot, has said none of its members are being investigated.

When contacted by The Telegram, Mayor Dennis O'Keefe said he couldn't comment, as the probe is still underway.

The city may have to look at purchase orders dating back further than the three years which have already been reviewed.

Pending the outcome of the investigation, a report will be prepared for city council, which will determine what happens next.

dbartlett@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Canadian Union of Public Employees

Geographic location: St. John's

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Recent comments

  • gerry wells
    January 22, 2012 - 20:49

    Funny that the misappropriation of funds at the city dump has been kept quiet...whats going on there. Who are they cvering up for???? Something smells there besides the garbage!!!!!

  • Sparky
    January 22, 2012 - 11:50

    Whats the point of an "investigation", its either 'buddies brother' or 'brother-in-law'; its a "Family Affair" over there! MHA`s all over again! lawyers are like "kids at Christmas" in this city right now! ching!-ching!

  • Alexis
    January 21, 2012 - 14:09

    I used to work for a different department with the city, the use of Purchase Orders was so strict, you wouldn't get an unauthorized nickel by them. This must be a case of a few bad apples

  • John Smith
    January 21, 2012 - 09:09

    I bet a lot of people knew this was going on, but didn't speak up. Probably guilty of something themselves. I wonder how much of this sort of thing goes on by city employees. I'd say it is rampant. Buddy must have peed someone off, and now he has to suffer the slings and arrows of retireing with full benefits. Give me a break. This city is run by fools.

    • J Cooper
      January 21, 2012 - 12:28

      Isn't that one of the reasons we have auditors? Maybe they're not doing their job.

  • BR
    January 21, 2012 - 08:06

    An accounting system for a city this size should prevent this. They have internal auditors to monitor the system and external auditors to audit the financial statements. How did this happen for years????? The offender may have issued and signed a purchase order but somebody else should have issued the cheque.

  • ABOUTTIME
    January 21, 2012 - 08:06

    IT should be mandatory to have all gov.depts reviewed yearly....U would be amazed how much you would find :)