A whistleblower called attention to an illegal raffle at a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation office that raised $571 for a charity. State law generally prohibits raffles. Photos courtesy of California Bureau of State Audits
A whistleblower called attention to an illegal raffle at a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation office that raised $571 for a charity. State law generally prohibits raffles. Photos courtesy of California Bureau of State Audits

The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

The State Worker

UC Davis professor charged school almost $1,000 for limo trips, audit says

By Adam Ashton

aashton@sacbee.com

October 12, 2017 03:31 PM

A UC Davis professor returned almost $1,000 to the school this year after officials determined that three limousine trips he charged to the campus were inappropriate, according to the California state auditor’s latest report on improper activities committed by state workers.

The audit does not name the professor. It describes him as a Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering professor who travels frequently to attend conferences and raise money for the college.

The report said he filed expense reports for three limousine trips that he took in April and May 2015, and that the state auditor’s office received a complaint about the charges.

University of California investigators determined that the charges violated the college’s travel policy, which prohibits “expenses that are lavish or extravagant under the circumstances.”

When confronted, the professor acknowledged that he should have driven his own car for the trips he billed to the university. He repaid $996 to UC Davis in April.

Auditors found two more inappropriate travel expenses he charged to the campus for $197. He reimbursed that money to UC Davis, too.

UC Davis plans to provide training to the professor and his staff on travel reimbursements because of the audit’s findings.

The auditor’s summary released Thursday also found:

▪  An annual holiday party for workers at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation included an illegal raffle.

The state constitution generally restricts raffles to private, nonprofit groups that receive permission to sponsor them from the state Department of Justice

“Conducting an illegal raffle, even at an office holiday party, is impermissible,” the audit said.

The corrections office raised $571 for a charity in December by hosting a raffle with prizes that included alcohol, ammunition and Sacramento Kings tickets.

Employees in the office did not know that state law prohibited most raffles. They had hosted one over the holidays the previous seven years.

The corrections department plans to issue guidance to all of its employees by November to inform them about the ban on raffles.

▪  A mental health technician at a state hospital received $7,540 in improper overtime pay even though he regularly arrived late to work, left early and took long lunches.

The employee did not contest the auditors’ findings. Atascadero State Hospital may attempt to recoup the money from him, the audit said.

Adam Ashton: 916-321-1063, @Adam_Ashton. Sign up for state worker news alerts at sacbee.com/newsletters.