SAN ANTONIO – A veteran San Antonio Municipal Court employee was forced to resign in June, after an investigation revealed he was pretending to take lunch breaks on a nearly daily basis.
Luis Valderrama resigned June 15, a week after he was issued a notice of proposed termination for violating city rules related to fraud, waste and abuse.
Surveillance video provided by the city to the KSAT 12 Defenders shows Valderrama approach a time clock on April 19 and move his hand as if he is scanning his fingerprint to clock out.
Valderrama then returns an hour and seven minutes later and holds his hand up to the time clock again.
Valderrama returned to the clock a third time, according to records provided by the city's Office of Municipal Integrity.
OMI launched an investigation after receiving an anonymous tip, according to the paperwork.
Investigators determined that Valderrama first approaching the clock was "a farce to make it appear that he has clocked out for his lunch break" and that he was actually clocking in and out while staying in the building.
When confronted with the video evidence in May, Valderrama confessed, and said that he picked up the habit in order to go shopping.
Valderrama told investigators he visited various shops, including Goodwill stores at U.S. 281 and Bitters Road and at Loop 1604 and Bulverde Road, a roughly 40-mile round trip from the downtown court.
Investigators concluded that Valderrama sporadically began the lunch break scheme last December, before engaging in the ruse on a nearly daily basis.
OMI's investigation determined that Valderrama faked taking lunch breaks approximately 79 times since the beginning of the year.
Valderrama, an administrative assistant, had worked for municipal court since 2002, according to human resources records.
A man at his west side home said Valderrama was unavailable for comment.
In a letter sent to municipal court clerk Fred Garcia two days before he resigned, however, Valderrama said he had often mixed business errands with his trips and that two other city court employees had violated the same rule but kept their jobs.
Valderrama also attempted to recant his confession three days after being confronted with the allegation, according to city records.
Municipal court officials refused repeated requests for an interview for this story.
Garcia released the following written statement:
“The City of San Antonio will not tolerate the theft of time by its employees, and any violation of an administrative directive by an employee is disciplined on a case-by-case basis. After being made aware of work time discrepancies in May 2017, Municipal Court management compared Mr. Valderrama’s City time clock entries with court surveillance cameras and determined they did not match. A thorough investigation by the City’s Office of Municipal Integrity determined that A.D. 1.75 Fraud, Waste and Abuse was repeatedly violated. For this reason, termination was proposed and Mr. Valderrama resigned from his position on June 15, 2017. Additionally, the allegations stated by Mr. Valderrama that two employees engaged in the same behavior while he was in a lead role in 2013 cannot be substantiated.”
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