ATLANTA - Channel 2 Action News has learned that four Atlanta city workers have been fired and had been paid for more than a year
but had not been working.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher learned the employees are implicated in a scheme to create or use bogus GED certificates.
Atlanta officials say it takes time to fire or demote someone because they have to offer the employees due process.
We may never know why it took so long to move against the workers. We do know the city had evidence of the scheme some time last year, but didn't act until Monday.
Channel 2 Action News started looking into this story after a tip about Atlanta public works employees spending months, sometimes more than a year, on administrative leave with pay.
Other city departments were affected as well. Among them were watershed management, and parks and recreation.
The initial numbers showed citywide there were 21 people on leave with pay
-- seven of them for more than a year.
The cost to the taxpayers as of late May was nearly $400,000. Councilwoman Felicia Moore says it's a waste.
“Every penny counts because it's all taxpayers' dollars.
But the real eye-opener is inside the report of a 2012 investigation by the city law department.
Now we know that at least five of the workers on long-term leave with pay were implicated in a scheme involving bogus GEDs.
According to the city report, public works employees Mernena Henderson and Pamela Lockett “created, sold and distributed fraudulent documents, including...G.E.D. Certificates, high school diplomas and check stubs.”
Three other employees, Richdene Smith, Reginald Lett and Quatavius Berry, bought or used fraudulent documents.
“And that's ridiculous, because there was a determination made that there was a problem,” Moore said.
Tuesday afternoon, the mayor's office said one of the employees implicated was in the process of being fired. The others were fired Monday.