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L.A. city controller wants pay returned by employees found guilty of workplace wrongdoing

June 15, 2011 | 12:51 pm

Los Angeles' city controller on Wednesday asked the head of the personnel department to seek financial restitution from employees found guilty of job-related crimes.

Controller Wendy Greuel’s request to Maggie Whelan, the general manager of the personnel department, comes amid an FBI bribery probe into corruption at the Department of Building and Safety.

Specifically, Greuel asked Whelan to investigate a change to city policy that would require employees found guilty of wrongdoing to pay back salaries they received while on leave during an inquiry.

Two field inspectors have pleaded guilty to charges that they accepted bribes in exchange for building approvals. Two others were placed on paid administrative leave during the city's investigation into alleged corruption at the department. Of the two placed on leave, one retired.

In her letter, Greuel, a possible mayoral candidate, said she was concerned about the “significant costs” the city incurs due to employee leaves during investigations into possible misconduct.

“These investigations are often lengthy and the city winds up paying thousands of dollars for people who are found guilty of serious wrongdoing yet were allowed to retain their full salaries during their time on administrative leave,” Greuel wrote.

“I believe that during this time of severe budgetary constraints, it is crucial that we look at every opportunity to recover costs, where possible.”

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-- Kate Linthicum and David Zahniser

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