Maybe the feds should call this one Operation Sunshine Boys. What started as a so-called sunshine fund to lavish goodwill perks on municipal employees from cash sales of scrap metal is causing a heap of trouble for fired Public Works employees Joe Tiago and Jose DeMoura. Money from an off-the-books account is missing. The feds are following the money.
Tuesday morning federal agents visited the city’s Finance Department in the Morton Government Center seeking additional information. In November City Finance Director Kenneth Flatto scrapped the scrap-metal sales in the Public Facilities Department and took control of the proceeds after what was then part of an internal probe handled by city police.
The feds have since taken over the investigation.
Last week, following due process hearings before Labor Relations, Tiago and DeMoura were fired for their accused roles of turning scrap-metal sales into cash used purportedly as a sunshine fund account to cover goodies to boost department morale.
Mayor Joe Ganim had previously announced that his appointed director of the department John Ricci was docked two weeks pay and two weeks vacation for his role in the matter. Ricci accepted responsibility as the department head. He says he did not use the money for personal use. It was spent “to pay for meals, cakes, event tickets and other morale-boosting activities.”
The feds are investigating the matter to determine where the missing money went.