Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Probe into Hinted Scheme Clears Cotpa Employees

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Probe into Hinted Scheme Clears Cotpa Employees

Article excerpt

A three-month investigation into a possible automotive repair scheme involving the Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority may have implicated one automotive repair shop used by the authority, according to the Oklahoma City Police Department.

However, it appears to have cleared any authority employees of wrongdoing, the department said.

The automotive repair shop, which was not identified, allegedly made $490 in unnecessary repairs to two authority vehicles taken to the shop by Oklahoma City Police investigators, according to a prepared statement to the press by the city manager's office citing information supplied by the police department.

Lt. Ted Carlton, who participated in the investigation, said investigators hired an automotive repair specialist to make minor adjustments in systems that were working properly on the cars.

The engineered malfunctions were of such a nature that they would be easily recognized and easily corrected, he said.

"That's what our expert is prepared to testify to," Carlton said.

Instead, a car taken in on May 27 received $170 in unnecessary repairs, and a car taken in on June 3 received $320 in unnecessary repairs.

No evidence surfaced indicating that an employee of the authority might be involved in the alleged scheme, according to the statement.

Terry Patillo, executive director of the Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority, said he would be unable to estimate how much money might have been lost through the alleged scheme until he had seen the police reports and city auditor's reports.

"The only thing we can quantify," said Carlton, "is the vehicles in the press release. They're the only vehicles we have direct knowledge of what we knew of the vehicle's condition before it went in for repairs and then when it came out."

The repair shop reportedly had serviced authority vehicles 177 separate times during the past two years.

Findings of the investigation have been forwarded to the Oklahoma County district attorney's office for possible criminal charges and to the Oklahoma City municipal counselor's office for possible civil action to recover monetary damages from the repair shop. …

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