DA won’t prosecute fired lifeguard chief

DA won’t prosecute fired lifeguard chief
A criminal investigation of Pat Vergne for alleged misdemeanor larceny charges has been closed. The District Attorney's Office found "there is not proof beyond a reasonable doubt that crimes were committed" and will not prosecute. Vergne, Del Mar's former community services director and lifeguard chief who was fired last summer, is suing the city. Photo by Bianca Kaplanek

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department has closed its criminal investigation of Pat Vergne and another former city employee for alleged misdemeanor larceny charges associated with the August 2017 firing of the longtime chief lifeguard and community services director.

“Based on the investigation submitted, the District Attorney’s Office is not filing criminal charges at this time against any City of Del Mar employees,” Deputy District Attorney Anna Winn from the Regional Fraud Task Force stated in an email. “Based on the investigation submitted, there is not proof beyond a reasonable doubt that crimes were committed.”

Vergne, who is suing the city for its actions, said he has no comment on the positive outcome at this time.

Vergne was terminated last summer after a four-month investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct and misuse of public funds. He and Liza Rogers waived or discounted facility use fees totaling more than $150,000 between 2015 and 2017.

They were also accused of submitting false claims for pay and overtime and making personal purchases using a city credit card.

Vergne said he believes he had the discretion to modify facility use fees because it was something he had done for years without ever being told not to by any supervisor past or present.

“I managed that facility for 17 years and not at any one time did the city manager approach me with concerns or I would immediately have addressed the concerns and changed,” Vergne said. “It’s not like the books were being hidden. They had access to everything.”

Current City Manager Scott Huth said he and his administrative staff didn’t know Vergne was adjusting fees for use of Powerhouse Community Center or other city facilities. He said he became aware of it as a result of the investigation.

Vergne also said during the investigation he was shown three or four receipts for questionable charges made by Rogers on the city credit card. He said they were for department-related items such as surfboards, surfboard repairs and bathing suits for female lifeguards.

Evidence collected during the investigation, which included a long list of people who had rented city facilities, was turned over to the Sheriff’s Department for further review.

“It involved a misuse of public funds and we have an obligation to send it to the Sheriff’s Department instead of handling it internally,” Del Mar City Attorney Leslie Devaney said at the time. “They’ll make a determination to move forward and include the (district attorney).”

 

 

 

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