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Goldstein Investigation Finds Some City Employees Are Paid Not To Work

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Budget crisis? CBS2 has found at least a half million dollars of your taxpayer money is going to city employees who are being paid not to work.

Investigative Reporter David Goldstein also uncovered the fact that this has been going on for years. Moreover, in his investigation he found out that city officials don't even know how much money is being spent.

This LA City firefighter paramedic is getting ready to go surfing.

But it's not David Schaefer's day off. For two years he's been on what's called "administrative leave."

He's under investigation for something the department -- and he -- won't divulge. But he still collected a salary of $133,852 taxpayer money while the investigation drags on.

"You think that's a good use of taxpayer money?," Schaefer is asked.

"Is no comment appropriate?," he says.

And he adds, "I don't make the rules. I just do what I'm told. Is that a good enough answer for you?"

And he's not alone. We obtained a database from the city and found dozens of employees getting paid while under investigation for extended periods of time.

This convention center electrician has been under investigation since last September -- but he still collected more than $59,000 of taxpayer money to stay home.

This warehouse worker for the fire department -- $35,000 while under investigation since last October.

And this cement finisher for general services -- $47,000. He's been 0n paid administrative leave since November 21st of last year.

"We've been following you for weeks at a time buying alcohol."

This is that cement finisher.

"Can I get four?"

You may remember we caught Joe Loaiza last year on hidden camera drinking and driving a city truck.

"There's the mayor's car right there."

Then sometimes working at the mayor's house.

"We have it on video. Days and days of it."

After this interview, he went on paid administrative leave.

Now, ten months later -- his case is still pending and he's still collecting his full salary of more than $1500 a week. And he's not working at all.

The GSA personnel director told me "we're working on resolving the case soon."

"I don't know if you saw that story or not?"

"I certainly heard about it," said personnel director Raelynn Napper.

She keeps track of employees who get paid while under investigation.

I asked her why taxpayers should pay a year's salary to someone under investigation? She said, "Some cases can be complicated and may involve other agencies. So it can take a while. But I totally agree. In most cases, it shouldn't take this long."

How much this is costing the city is hard to determine. In our database we found at least a half a million dollars in the last fiscal year paid to city employees who were under investigation and not on the job. But officials admit it could be a lot more because the employees are spread out over dozens of departments throughout the city.

I say, "that is a lot of money being spent on people who aren't working." She says, "Absolutely, and we're working closely with the mayor's office developing steps to address it and we've got a lot of ideas on how to fix it."

Part of the fix is a new pay code called "L2" -- that would specifically label employees who were being paid while under investigation.

And the personnel department took control of 23 city agencies to try and move the investigation process along.

City Controller Wendy Gruel is tired of the waste of taxpayer money. "I have zero tolerance for any abuse of any city resources including theft of time."

She adds, "Anyone sitting at home getting paid every single day, whether they're guilty or not, I think is an abuse of the city system and we should ensure they're not on leave for that amount of time."

The city did stop paying Schaefer in June -- even though he is still under investigation.

But again, taxpayers are still paying Loiaza -- 10 months after investigators has this video and put him on administrative leave.

David Goldstein, CBS2 News

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