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L.A. County auditor finds no 'ghost employees' in probation department

Recordkeeping that showed where and when workers were assigned was often weak, the report says. The head of probation agency says he will implement the auditor's recommendations to improve recordkeeping.

December 24, 2010|By Garrett Therolf, Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles County auditors released a report Thursday that sought to ease fears that the Probation Department had significant numbers of workers on the payroll who did not show up for work.

"In summary, our review did not disclose any 'ghost employees' within Probation," Auditor-Controller Wendy Watanabe wrote.

Officials expressed concern earlier this year that such a problem might exist among active workers after finding extensive problems with the management of workers out on leave for disabilities and other reasons.

But Watanabe said her staff interviewed nearly all of the department's 5,970 active employees and found just a few discrepancies.

The most significant problem was the case of an employee who did not report to work between November 2009 and August 2010 but inappropriately received at least 10 months of full pay, totaling about $37,000 plus employee benefits. The employee's supervisor said she thought that the employee was on approved leave for an injury, but that turned out not to be the case.

Watanabe also found that although the overwhelming majority of employees were working, recordkeeping that showed when and where they were assigned was often weak.

Chief Probation Officer Donald H. Blevins said he was gratified to learn that there were no "ghost employees." He said he was implementing all of Watanabe's recommendations to improve recordkeeping.

garrett.therolf@latimes.com

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