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Grand jury findings released in 2001 report

July 13, 2001

EDITOR'S NOTE: The 2000-01 Imperial County grand jury report will be published Sunday in this newspaper.

By RUDY YNIGUEZ

Staff Writer

Alleged nepotism, the misuse of funds, conflicts of interest, a failure to follow one's by-laws and improper zoning from what might be favoritism were all issues addressed in the final report of the 2000-2001 Imperial County grand jury report.

The grand jury investigated a number of public agencies, mostly as a result of citizen complaints.

One of those agencies was the Desert Shores-based West Shore Ambulance Service. The grand jury report says the agency was investigated due to a complaint alleging the misuse of public funds, violations of its own by-laws and a conflict of interest.

The ambulance service receives funds from county, state and federal governments. Information regarding the amount of funds received from the county could not immediately be obtained.

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Among the grand jury's findings at the ambulance service were:

l two agency directors have served more than three consecutive terms, which violates the ambulance service's by-laws

l the spouse of a board member works in a paid position. The grand jury said this does not appear to be consistent with the welfare and best interests of the agency despite that the ambulance service board amended its by-laws to allow such a situation.

l one member of what is supposed to be a volunteer board has been paid for services rendered on behalf of the agency.

l the removal of one board member by other board members for voting to not pay a board member for services rendered on behalf of the agency.

l the submission of computer-generated expense receipts instead of the originals.

The grand jury report says "any possible evidence of wrongdoing has been turned over to the office of the District Attorney."

West Shore Ambulance Service board President Jo Leta Baker said the board is not prepared to comment on the grand jury report at this time and that the board will discuss it next week.

Separately, the grand jury investigated an allegation that the city of Imperial is allowing Tucker Auto Dismantling on Aten Road to operate without the proper zoning in place and that the business was never formally approved by the Imperial City Council.

Imperial Mayor Mark Gran and City Manager Vincent Long said they have not seen the grand jury report and could not comment.

The report recommends the 2001-2002 grand jury continue the investigation into the matter.

Other grand jury investigations to be continued include:

l the California Youth Authority's disciplinary decision-making process

l complaints against the Calexico planning commissioner.

l two complaints against Calipatria State Prison personnel.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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