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Investigative Report Exposes Possible City Slacker

We went undercover to find city slackers -- city employees slacking off on your tax dollars.

Our hidden camera caught a man helping with the groceries at home during a time when he was supposed to be at work, earning your taxpayer money.

He made more than $86,000 last year working for the L.A. Bureau of Street Services, but we watched him again and again, spending hours at a time wasting time on your tax money.

His name is Octavio Martin, a tree surgeon supervisor and 30-year city employee, who is supposed to inspect and ensure that trees have been planted around the city.

We saw Martin get in his truck on June 2, at 10:53 a.m. after leaving his house, which is just down the block. City officials say it is against policy for employees to take trucks home during work hours.

He went to the yard, filled up with gas and pulled out and went to a park. For the next several hours we watched him go to park, after park, after park never getting out of his truck -- spending the time reading in the front seat.

He then drove back to his house at 1:01 p.m. After a half hour at home, he left and parked by the side of the road to continue reading -- all this on city time.

He then drove around the streets and ended up back at the yard. Records show his shift was over at 4 p.m.

But it wasn't just once. We followed him on two other days, once watching him help to unload the groceries at home.

Other times driving around the streets in circles without stopping until he ended again back at his house where I tried to talk with him.

"We've seen you driving around in circles for hours, both today and other days. Is that what the tax payers are paying you for," I asked. "You sit on the side of the road and you read a book, a magazine, you sit in the parks? Can I talk to you for a second sir?"

He drove off without saying a word.

Street services officials say they have been hit hard by the city budget crisis -- 351 positions have been eliminated, employees have been ordered to take 26 furlough days. So they were obviously surprised by what we uncovered.

"This is really troubling," said Director Bill Robinson.

Robinson said Martin could not have been doing his job sitting in his truck and it is against policy to drive a city vehicle to his house, even if he was going home for lunch. And it comes at the worst time for the city.

"It's unfortunate that most people now, instead of doing their normal job are doing their normal job plus one or two others and they're splitting their time. That's why this is so troubling," Robinson said.

He has opened an investigation, looking at how your tax money may have been misused.

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