A Monroe County employee accused of stealing money from a county trash transfer station was suspended without pay on Friday.
David Sinclair, who is listed in his county personnel file as a landfill operator, is under investigation by both the county and the State Attorney's Office for stealing tipping fees from the Key Largo transfer station and writing bogus receipts to customers, county officials and prosecutors have confirmed.
Fellow transfer station employee James Bates was also under investigation, but he died of natural causes earlier this week. Bates, 60, was found dead in his home on Transylvania Avenue in Key Largo on Monday, according to sheriff's spokeswoman Becky Herrin.
Sinclair, who was hired by the county in 1999 and earns $43,000 a year, will have a predetermination hearing to determine if he will be fired. A date for the hearing has not yet been set, said Kevin Wilson, who oversees the county's Public Works Division.
Sinclair and Bates have been under investigation for several months. The men had worked at the scale house of the transfer station, where trash and debris is weighed and customers pay a fee based on that weight. The men reportedly pocketed cash collected and gave bogus receipts to customers, investigators said.
Several weeks ago, Sinclair and Bates were moved to other jobs at the transfer station in which they were not handling money, county officials said.
County officials said the investigation started after they noticed irregularities in cash deposits from the transfer station. Monroe County Clerk of Court Office staff started an audit of the transfer station, but backed off when they learned the State Attorney's Office was also investigating. The Clerk's Office wanted prosecutors to take the lead in the case, county officials said.
Sinclair has yet to be charged criminally, but the investigation is ongoing, officials said.