Friday, July 02, 2010
APS Fleet Manager Faces Felony Charges
By Hailey Heinz
Journal Staff Writer
The fleet manager at Albuquerque Public Schools has been charged with four felonies — including embezzlement and forgery — in connection with using thousands of dollars of school district money to purchase auto parts for himself and his daughter.
His arrest has triggered a full audit of the Fleet Maintenance Department, according to Superintendent Winston Brooks.
Brooks said Randy Sanchez, 55, will be placed on unpaid leave. A due process hearing is scheduled Tuesday, with a disciplinary hearing to follow Wednesday. Brooks said he intends to fire Sanchez.
"I am taking no prisoners," he said. "I have zero tolerance for people who steal money from the school district."
Sanchez admitted using school district money to buy a turbocharger and other auto parts for himself and his daughter, according to a criminal complaint. Police found the turbocharger in his daughter's truck. Officials believe Sanchez spent at least $4,000 in district money for his own use.
Sanchez, who makes $53,989 annually, was arrested Wednesday and bonded out of jail Thursday afternoon. He was charged with embezzlement, two counts of forgery and receiving stolen property, according to the complaint.
Confidential informants told police that problems in the Fleet Maintenance Department extend beyond Sanchez, and Maintenance and Operations Director John Dufay was aware of Sanchez's actions, according to the criminal complaint.
Dufay declined to comment on those allegations Thursday.
The complaint accuses Sanchez of ordering the turbocharger, then altering a work order to make it appear it was installed in an APS vehicle. According to the complaint, Sanchez forged the signatures of other APS employees in order to authorize his purchases.
Sources came forward after Sanchez listed a new turbocharger for sale on Craig's List. According to the complaint, Sanchez didn't get any offers on it and later installed it in his daughter's truck.
Bernalillo County sheriff's deputies and APS police searched his house and his daughter's truck, where they allegedly found the turbocharger and a cooler, which Sanchez admitted had been purchased with APS money.
In a search of Sanchez's home, police also found other items belonging to APS, including two rechargeable drills and a jump box for starting dead batteries.
Sanchez has worked in fleet maintenance since 1998, when he started as a technician. He has been the manager since May 2008. In his absence, current fleet maintenance supervisor Robert Armijo will fill his role.
Another public maintenance fleet has been under scrutiny this summer.
Police raided a city vehicle maintenance facility last month, arresting two employees who allegedly had been running a "pay-to-play" scheme with local auto parts businesses.
The scheme, which investigators said may have been going on for years, involved city employees who took kickbacks from auto stores in exchange for ordering parts and supplies from those vendors.