HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A former city street sweeper fired from his job after admitting to theft in an overtime scam was rehired by a different city department three years after losing his job.
In 2009, five men who worked as city street sweepers out of the city's Sand Island base yard were indicted for theft. Prosecutors said they had been paid thousands of dollars in overtime when they didn't work the extra hours.
"I do believe that people do deserve second chances," said City street sweeping supervisor Manuel Castro in January 2011 in court. Castro was sentenced to a year in prison and ordered to pay back $20,000 in overtime from a scheme in which prosecutors said he collected kickbacks from city street sweepers whose bogus OT he approved.
Castro retired from the city shortly after confessing to the crime.
Street sweeper Lydell Herodies, one of Castro's underlings, pleaded guilty to theft in the case, and did not get prison time but was ordered to pay the city nearly $3,000 restitution. He was fired from his city job in November 2009, a city spokesman said.
Three years later, on July 1, Herodies was hired as a custodian at the Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant. He was put back on the payroll by a different city department, Environmental Services.
"It has to stop because it costs us, the taxpayer. And besides, it's just an insult, it's like a slap in the face," said government watchdog Carroll Cox of EnviroWatch. Cox said it's wrong for the city to rehire someone who's been fired for theft.
"It's a recycling of people who have either violated the law or violated policy," Cox added.
Herodies told Hawaii News Now he's just trying to get on with his life and he had an otherwise spotless record during his 13 years working for the city.
A city spokesman said Herodies' supervisors at the sewage plant called him a "good worker" who had "good references" and state law bars employers from refusing to hire someone based on their arrest or court record.
Herodies' father is a supervisor in the city's Facility Maintenance department, where his son was a street sweeper before he was fired after the over time scam.
Hirodies claimed his father had nothing to do with him getting that new city job here. He said his father didn't even know he was applying for another city job which he claims he found by reading the classified ads in the newspaper.
"What's troubling is that it seems to be a tolerance for a revolving door culture of nepotism, lack of ethics," Cox said.
Two other street sweepers were fired from the city after pleading guilty.
The fifth street sweeper involved in the scam, Roman Thomas, kept his city job. He now works at the city's Halawa Base Yard. Thomas pleaded "no contest" to a theft charge and paid $560 restitution, according to court documents.