The Monroe County Commission, on Monday, will discuss possible punishment for its two top administrators and others who have been named in a grand jury report dealing with the theft of county iPads and iPhones.
The 19-page grand jury report released last month called for the commission to fire County Administrator Roman Gastesi and Deputy County Administrator Debbie Frederick, as they were negligent in the very least in their duties, the report stated.
The commission will meet at 3 p.m. Monday at the Marathon Government Center.
Gastesi purchased four iPhones and an iPad from county Technical Services Director Lisa Druckemiller. In its report, the grand jury stated that he was quick to purchase iPhones and iPads at substantially reduced rates and should have known better.
"Mr. Gastesi eagerly availed himself of at least four cut-rate iPhones and one cut-rate iPad from Lisa Druckemiller, paying only $899 for items that cost county taxpayers $2,328.96," the grand jury stated.
The grand jury also said that Gastesi encouraged other county employees to obtain iPhones and iPads from Druckemiller.
Gastesi won't comment directly on the grand jury recommendations until Monday's meeting "with his bosses," he said. He did tell The Citizen that he "addressed the issue immediately when it came to light and called the State Attorney's Office so they could investigate."
The grand jury said that Frederick "was in the best position to monitor whether county-purchased iPhones and iPads were being misappropriated," as she was Druckemiller's direct supervisor.
Frederick disagreed with the grand jury's recommendation. She called the theft of her credit card number a "personal issue," she told The Citizen.
Druckemiller used Frederick's card to purchase an iPhone legitimately through the Apple computer company. Druckemiller told Frederick the purchases should have been made on her credit card account, not Frederick's, and that she planned to have the issue resolved.
The grand jury scolded all county officials who purchased the equipment through Druckemiller. County Commissioner Heather Carruthers purchased an iPhone from Druckemiller. Fellow technical services worker Hank Kokenzie purchased three iPads from Druckemiller.
County Budget Director Tina Boan purchased two iPhones. County wastewater projects administrator Liz Wood purchased an iPhone from Druckemiller. Guardian Ad Litem Director Alexsa Leto purchased two phones and Guardian Ad Litem employees Tom Hampton and Lacy Caballero purchased an iPhone each from Druckemiller, the report states. Every employee has said they purchased the phones not knowing they were stolen.
"The combination of the low price, cash payment and the lack of receipt should have prompted all or most credulous purchasers to question the propriety of these deals. As the old adage goes, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is," the report states.
Commissioners Sylvia Murphy and Commissioner Heather Carruthers and County Mayor David Rice do not support firing Gastesi and Frederick, they said. Commissioners George Neugent and Kim Wigington also did not seem inclined to fire them, but were waiting until Monday to make any kind of decision. Neugent was not sure if the commission legally could terminate Gastesi's contract if it wanted to. He wanted to hear from the county attorney before making any kind of decision.
Druckemiller is accused of stealing 52 county-owned iPads and iPhones. She has been charged with felony scheming to defraud and dealing in stolen property.