Albuquerque Workers Caught Ripping City Off – Busted By GPS Tracking System

In 2010, the Solid Waste Management Department in Albuquerque, NM, wanted to improve the efficiency of the city’s garbage routes. So the city installed a GPS tracking system in each of the city’s garbage trucks.

Chief Operations Officer John Soladay said the City saved over $750,000 in fuel and maintenance costs, by taking data from the GPS devices and re-routing existing routes.

Even though the GPS tracking devices weren’t a secret, drivers were caught doing all kinds of things – taking extended lunch breaks, leaving work early, and much worse.

“The goal was to map out efficient routes… The city just happened to learn more than that after examining the data, which became cause to launch 20 investigations,” Soladay said.

“For the large majority of the City’s 225 Waste Dept. drivers, doing the right thing, that is not an issue, but for a small minority there has been outright inappropriate behavior,” said Soladay. “I can’t believe what we caught two of our drivers doing.”

“We had one specific driver who came in at six in the morning and would pick up his truck,” Soladay said. “He would drive home until a little after eight in the morning.” Turns out he was going back home to help get his kids ready for school.

Two drivers were even caught operating side businesses with their garbage trucks – all on the taxpayer’s dime.

Every three minutes, the tracking system sends a signal to Solid Waste managers. If drivers are not where they are supposed to be, or if they are driving too fast, the traking system automatically sends alerts to the City’s Waste Dept.

City managers noticed two drivers were often late, not where they were supposed to be – sometimes outside of Albuquerque city limits – while they were supposed to be hauling trash. City managers decided to hire a private investigator to follow the two rogue garbage collectors, Leroy Ulibarri and Rick Koppos.

The city alleged Ulibarri stole a city-owned dumpster and placed it on his property. The city alleged Ulibarri ran a scam by picking up construction materials and garbage from his friends and charged them $100 each.

He would then take the full dumpster to the landfill and tell the attendant to bill Apria Healthcare for the dumping cost. Apria Healthcare is a private business that specializes in home nursing and was completely unaware they were being defrauding, according to city documents.

“Why are you doing this stuff,” the private investigator asked.

“It’s been kind of slow now and my daughter just went to college and I just wanted to get a little extra cash,” Ulibarri replied.

The investigator asked “how long have you been working for the city?”

“Five years,” Ulibarri replied.

Then there is the case of Rick Koppos. This time, the city suspected Koppos was operating a tire recycling business out of his garbage truck. City documents stated that Koppos collected tires from a tire shop in his truck.

He would then charge the shop owner to dispose of the tires while pocketing the money and still collecting a city paycheck.

Surveillance video also caught Koppos shopping at Wal-Mart, Big Lots and grabbing a lunch at Dion’s Pizza. Despite the video evidence, Koppos fought the charges but was ultimately fired.

“GPS tracking has allowed us to quickly address poor behavior and make our drivers aware that they are responsible to the residents to provide cost effective service,” Chief Operations Officer John Soladay said.

A spokeswoman for the mayor’s office said the Albuquerque Police Department continues to investigate the two former employees.

Sources: http://www.abqjournal.com/main/2011/11/09/news/trash-drivers-under-scrutiny.html, http://www.wasterecyclingnews.com/headlines2.html?id=1322061176&headline=Update%3A+Drivers+caught+misusing+time+by+GPS, and http://liarcatchers.com/blog/?p=2398