A Monroe County trash worker accused of stealing tipping fees has been arrested and charged with felony counts of petty theft and official misconduct.
The Monroe County State Attorney's Office had been investigating David Sinclair, who is a scale operator at the Key Largo transfer station, for several months. He is accused of stealing the tipping fees and writing bogus receipts to customers.
Fellow transfer station employee James Bates also was under investigation, but he died of natural causes last month. Bates, 60, was found dead Oct. 22 in his Transylvania Avenue home in Key Largo on, according to sheriff's spokeswoman Becky Herrin.
Sinclair, who was hired by the county in 1999 and earns $43,000 a year, was arrested and booked into the Monroe County jail on Stock Island on Thursday.
In March, county Public Works Division director Kevin Wilson contacted the State Attorney's Office about the two employees possibly stealing after finding irregularities in cash deposits from the transfer station. In May, State Attorney's Office investigators conducted an undercover operation in which the investigators used a marked $20 bill. They drove a car loaded with trash to the transfer station and had Sinclair weigh it.
Sinclair told the agents the cost of dropping off the trash was $22.23. They paid with the marked $20 bill and three unmarked $1 bills and were given an invoice with the number "51885," the arrest warrant states.
The investigators obtained copies of the receipts and invoices from the trash station and realized that invoice 51885 had been altered by Sinclair and Bates and was filed with the county in the amount of $12.35.
"The $22.23 in cash I had given Sinclair on that day was never submitted to Public Works," Investigator Edwin Grove said.
Sinclair, confronted with the reportedly bogus receipt, allegedly said he did "not recall issuing it."
The scale house of the transfer station is where trash and debris is weighed and customers pay a "tipping" fee for its disposal based on that weight. The men reportedly pocketed cash collected and gave bogus receipts to customers, investigators said.
While the investigation was ongoing, Sinclair and Bates were moved to other jobs at the transfer station in which they were not handling money, county officials said.
Sinclair has been suspended without pay since Oct. 2.