Fuel charges under scrutiny

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Richmond County sheriff's investigators are looking into thousands of dollars of suspicious fuel charges coming from the county's Animal Services Department.

Several employees were interviewed by police Wednesday after about $10,000 in fuel charges showed up in the department's records, according to Lt. Tony Walden.

"We have video, and we know for a fact some of those gas cards were used to put gas in personal vehicles," Lt. Walden said.

Employees are given Fuelman gasoline cards and their own personal identification number for county-owned vehicles. However, it appears the same PIN was used a number of times on separate cards, Lt. Walden said.

"I suspect that we're going to end up with more than one person involved," he said.

Investigators are trying to sift through as many as 109 "suspicious" transactions that occurred between Aug. 18 and Sept. 14.

City Administrator Fred Russell said the city's fleet manager informed him of the charges about two weeks ago and they were turned over to the sheriff's department.

Mr. Russell said that fleet management monitors the charges very closely and that with 1,000 fuel cards issued to city employees, abuses are not uncommon.

"This happens every six months to a year," he said. "It happens."

As soon as thefts are detected, the thieves are prosecuted, Mr. Russell said.

No arrests were made Wednesday. A message left for Animal Services Director Diane Downs was not returned Wednesday.

Staff Writer Sylvia Cooper contributed to this article.

THE CHRONICLE BROKE THIS STORY, POSTING IT ON ITS WEB SITE AT 11:44 A.M. WEDNESDAY.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.

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ONLY THE TRUTH
2
Points
ONLY THE TRUTH 10/02/08 - 01:37 am
0
0
Did Betty Beard show them all

Did Betty Beard show them all how to get their "just deserves" from the taxpayers????

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 10/02/08 - 06:01 am
0
0
If this happens every "six

If this happens every "six months to a year" then there isn't much of a deterrent.

Bushmaster
0
Points
Bushmaster 10/02/08 - 06:06 am
0
0
With a thousand fuel cards

With a thousand fuel cards issued to city employees, would it not make sence to have a central area for all emplyees to fuel up, unless they are out of town. I am sure that the city could purchase gasoline at a substantial discount rate if a thousand vehicles are using gasoline daily. I know that the city once had a central shop that did this service, so bring it back and take the temptation to misuse the cards out of peoples hands and issue the cards to those that really need them. IE: the sheriiffs and fire departments.

pantherluvcik
628
Points
pantherluvcik 10/02/08 - 06:21 am
0
0
They travel all over the

They travel all over the city, it would make sense for them to get gas wherever they are closest. And they can only use one provider, but that provider has several stations.

Reality
3
Points
Reality 10/02/08 - 07:09 am
0
0
"As soon as thefts are

"As soon as thefts are detected, the thieves are prosecuted", I don't see anything about paying back the money or being fired. If they are all using a false pin number, this sounds like credit card fraud as well as stealing from the city/county....

karmakills123
8
Points
karmakills123 10/02/08 - 09:13 am
0
0
monkey see monkey

monkey see monkey do........if the leaders can get free gas why not the employees...now you and I know that that is the wrong the way of thinking... but remember what we are working with here.A City filled to the brim with uneducated and unqualified people employed.. who have little or no concern for the taxpayers..and that starts at the top and goes all the way to the bottom.

kai@reasontostand.org
1
Points
kai@reasontostand.org 10/02/08 - 09:23 am
0
0
I wonder how many of these

I wonder how many of these "personal vehicles" also included family and friend's vehicles. I guess it just goes to show the character of the people who thought no one would notice their slip in moral judgment.

1trugent
0
Points
1trugent 10/02/08 - 09:54 am
0
0
Believe me, they will be

Believe me, they will be fired and restitution required.

HYPOCRITES 08
7
Points
HYPOCRITES 08 10/02/08 - 10:54 am
0
0
Betty Beard does not have

Betty Beard does not have anything to do with this. The difference between the " Leaders" and the employees is, the " Leaders are authorized to gas up their vehicles. If you do not like the policy, fight to get it changed.

jack
10
Points
jack 10/02/08 - 11:44 am
0
0
Hypo, the amount of free gas

Hypo, the amount of free gas certain membes of the RC Commission have used is out right theft by taking and nothng more. Of course you will defend them because like you, the heaviest users are black.

carlyle
0
Points
carlyle 10/02/08 - 11:50 am
0
0
Why don't the employees get a

Why don't the employees get a monthly gas allowance paid to them in a separate check. The amount is already designated, end of story. When it's gone, it's gone. My husband get's $400 a month to operate his vehicle for his company work. NO CREDIT CARDS!!!

Reality
3
Points
Reality 10/02/08 - 12:04 pm
0
0
There should be a fuel yard

There should be a fuel yard for all county vehicles to gas up. The yard would provide for better record keeping and save money on gas because they would buy in bulk.....

Equaltreatmentforall
49
Points
Equaltreatmentforall 10/02/08 - 12:08 pm
0
0
I know Diane Downs is as

I know Diane Downs is as honest as the day is long. You won't find her name on any misused gas ticket.

griesella
0
Points
griesella 10/02/08 - 12:25 pm
0
0
I would think that any

I would think that any employer would have limitations on the amount of expenses an employee will be reimbursed for or expenses which are approved. This idea of open-ended charge accounts is basic stupidity. Of course, I wouldn't say that if I were drinking at the trough with no oversight committee..

pointstoponder
161
Points
pointstoponder 10/02/08 - 01:35 pm
0
0
grizabella, the cards are to

grizabella, the cards are to fill up county vehicles. They are NOT authorized to fill personal vehicles. A central fuel yard used to exist and may have made sense when the cost was well under a dollar a gallon. Driving 20 miles to fill-up and then back is a waste of taxpayer money.

TrulyWorried
13582
Points
TrulyWorried 10/02/08 - 02:40 pm
0
0
Find out who stole, fire

Find out who stole, fire them, make them pay back every cent, make them do community work without pay and THEN - Richmond County Commission - find one person with a lot of common sense who can find a solution to this overall theft and misuse of our (taxpayers') money!!! There HAS to be a simple solution, one would be to cut down on so many "eligible" users. Find a way where everyone has to account for every penny spent - I know I have to - in order to stay within my budget.
It is just unbelievable to think that there are so many thieves working for Richmond County. Shame on everyone of them - no matter what their position. Hope payback day will come for them, and soon!!!

Brad Owens
4294
Points
Brad Owens 10/02/08 - 03:58 pm
0
0
How about checking those

How about checking those commissioers in the same way? Oh right, they have a fuel ration guranteed to them and it is a number of gallons NOT a set dollar amount.

TrulyWorried
13582
Points
TrulyWorried 10/02/08 - 04:10 pm
0
0
Brad - those set number of

Brad - those set number of gallons are somewhat generous too, too generous. Why can't everyone that is employed by the county - and there are many of them who get gas allowances -
be obligated to verify their useage? I am still hoping for a common sense person that could come up with a plan.
Knowing how the Animal Service is in constant need of help to help the helpless, namely the poor animals, those stealing the gasoline should be dealt with harshly - there are a lot of honest folks looking for work, at least I hope so.

waterandsewer79
0
Points
waterandsewer79 10/02/08 - 05:34 pm
0
0
I'll have worked for the City

I'll have worked for the City for almost thirty years and I have never taken as much as a pencil from the City and can assure you that I am well educated and I hold State of Georgia certifications in Wastewater collections and Water distribution. I work with some of the best people anyone of you would ever want to meet, hard working honest people, please do not be fooled by a few bad apples, I'm sure there are bad apples in every bunch, so please don't misjudge the rest of us. It is an honor to serve the people of Augusta and make sure they have clean water to drink and sewer mains flow to the Wastewater plant so the sewage can be treated and released back into the Savannah River.

TrulyWorried
13582
Points
TrulyWorried 10/02/08 - 06:12 pm
0
0
Yes indeed, and those decent

Yes indeed, and those decent hard working people should not feel guilty over what some of their co-workers have done. There ARE many decent people - more than there are crooks. Those that take advantage of their positions should be sought out and dismissed. Thank you for your service in water and sewer. You are all very much appreciated. I know only too well what it means not to have those services available - they are being taken for granted until they are no longer there. I know better, having lived long enough to experienced both sides.

HYPOCRITES 08
7
Points
HYPOCRITES 08 10/02/08 - 07:04 pm
0
0
Jack, you are one of the

Jack, you are one of the biggest idiots on this site. You do not miss a chance to bring race into every thing. Lets play with your words. Of course you are going to condemn them, because the heaviest users are Black. See bigot it goes both ways. If you could read I stated if you do not like the system do something to get it changed. Jack you will have to do more than be a bigot.

No_Longer_Amazed
5143
Points
No_Longer_Amazed 10/02/08 - 08:05 pm
0
0
brad.owens: 125 gallons a

brad.owens: 125 gallons a month seems VERY generous to me. How about the ridiculously low per gallon charge of 35-cents a gallon if they go over, and how about no accountability because the mayor pro-tem finds that "insulting and demeaning"?

TWright987
0
Points
TWright987 10/03/08 - 12:39 am
0
0
If they are assigned a

If they are assigned a specific automobile in their name, why can't the fuel cards be "registered" to that specific lisence plate number?

No_Longer_Amazed
5143
Points
No_Longer_Amazed 10/03/08 - 01:02 am
0
0
TWright987: There are a

TWright987: There are a number of controls that would improve the situation, but the abusers prevent any changes from being implemented.

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