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How public employees misuse taxpayer dollars

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Uploaded on Nov 8, 2010

tonight 4 investigates elected officials who spent your tax dollars on expensive trips to reno and washington d.c. some of the commissioners took their wives along too. investigative reporter jeremy jojola got ahold of the proof ... he's here now with what he uncovered. jeremy. free expensive steak dinners, a free six night stay at a casino resort---and a free flit. sounds nice right? not if you're the taxpayer footing the bill for people who don't even work for the government--but their husbands do. in cibola county---- 7 employees were laid off in july cause of the budget defecit. but that didn't stop commissioner lloyd felipe from flying to reno with his wife on the county dime the same month. we found their 400
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10:14 pm dollar plane tickets and their hotel bill from reno's grand sierra resort for a six night stay costing taxpayers one-thousand dollars. records show felipe turned in a receipt for a 165 dollar steak dinner. and that's not all. using the county's credit card, we found comissioner felipe stopped by this reno sporting goods store--bought golf balls, a hat, sun glasses, 50 dollar polo too. the total: 146 dollars. on his expense report---he wrote he needed it because he "lost his luggage" felipe was in reno with his wife for a government conference. he refused to answer any of our questions about the trip. in march cibola's county manager, the county receptionist, and three county commissioners also wento washington d.c. for a government conference. taxpayers covered the 17- thousand dollar trip for them-and two of their wives. commissioner walter jaramillo's wife, romanita----and the
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10:15 pm wife of commissioner antonio gallegos----susie--- wh o is a deputy county clerk. the commissioners and the county manager say the d.c. trip help secure stimulus money ---and it paid for things like this three million dollar bridge for school buses in grants. commissioner gallegos says his wife went because she's a deputy clerk, and that she attended the coference. he also says that they actually saved taxpayer's money. "we saved money for the county. because she's got the right to her own om. and her own perdiem. but she didn't. she slept in my room." commissioner walter jaramillo says his wife went because she works in the billing department of a private phsyical therapy clinic and wanted to talk to a congressman about health care. but jaramillos wife is not a county employee. "jojola: do you think taxpayers of this county would find it appropriate that your wife went along on this trip?" "uhm. i don't know. they know what we do in this county. they know we are a fifth generation in this county so they know
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10:16 pm myself and my wife and actually, the county paid for it, but that's why it's called a reimbursement." jaramillo says he reimbursed the county 800 dollars for his wife's plane ticket and meals. but he didn't cut a check until after we asked---seven months after the trip. jaramillo and the others who went to d.c also have to reimburse the county more than two thousand dollars, because some of their pricey meals. like at the lebanese taverna. a meal for each of them cost 62 dollars---they turned in a receipt for 375 dollars that you paid for. we reached county manager scott vinson by phone and asked about the high- dollar meal. "that's pretty common jeremy. in dc we have a 45 dollar limit on meals. as you're away, you're trying to travel outside the state like dc, you're not going to be able to eat 45 dollars a
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10:17 pm day unless you eat at mcdonalds." "jojola: is this an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars?" "absolutely not. these transactions are not allowed." state auditor hector balderas says the wives expenses was like a no- interest loan given to private citizens using tax-dollars. his office is now looking at the spending. "jojola: is it fair to say they broke the law here?" "absolutely. this is an inappropriate transaction and the auditors will be testing with more scruitiney beause of this type of transaction." we caught up with the chairman of the commission...edwa rd michael. he apologized about the imbursments taking so long. "i asked four times where we were at on this thing, okay. and i was assured that everything was taken care of. well, lo and behold, i wouldn't be talking to you if they were taken care of." we should note---only one commissioner didn't travel to dc or reno---and that's patrick simpson. we asked him why---he said he just thought traveling during this time is just too expensive.
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10:18 pm balderas says depending on what auditors find---it's possible the case could be referred to the district attorney. we'll keep you updated. coming up next..

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