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Sheriff's officials may have intentionally overpaid a contractor $11 million

Photo by Thomas Hart via Flickr Creative Commons

LASD Aero Bureau officials may have overpaid a Carlsbad contractor, Hangar One, $11 million in unjustified expenses and unnecessary equipment while outfitting the department's fleet of helicopters, an internal memo finds, reports the L.A. Times

Sheriff's officials allegedly paid the firm eight times the industry standard in labor costs, bought equipment they already had, and made six-figure purchases without the required Board of Supervisors approval.

As well, time sheets may have been compromised, and a manipulation of the bidding process is suspected -- contractor requirements were allegedly narrowed to game results in favor of Hangar One.

A lawsuit recently filed against the county by a retired lieutenant claimed that members of the LASD Aero Bureau intentionally missed calls for support, that county aircraft was being improperly used by officials, and that contractor deals were being rigged.

The retired lieutenant was dismissed by the county's attorney as "a disgruntled former employee" whose allegations were "meritless, based on gossip and innuendo," notes the Times.

The Times' recently obtained memo recommended that supervisors in emergency air support division be investigated for purchasing violations and possible conflicts of interest.

The details in the memo contrast an earlier probe of allegations that found no wrongdoing, and an earlier county's auditor-controller investigation that found no financial irregularities in contractor dealings.

"They have purposely bypassed the established purchasing code protocols," the memo states. "LASD Aero Bureau managers have potentially violated numerous L.A. County Codes and Guidelines."