Sacramento Trio Indicted in Billing and Bribery Scam
Two contractors and a former facilities supervisor for Sacramento (Calif.) Public Library made their first court appearance April 2, following their arrest the previous week on felony charges in an alleged billing scam, the Sacramento Bee reported April 3. Sacramento Superior Court Judge Gary Ransom read the charges against James Mayle, 63, his wife, Janie Rankins-Mayle, 59, and former library facilities supervisor Dennis Nilsson, 61, that included bribery and grand theft. Nilsson and Mayle also face additional counts of conflict of interest. None of the accused entered pleas.
Meanwhile, library Director Ann Marie Gold has come under growing criticism for her handling of the situation, with one union leader who represents library employees calling for her resignation for failing to act sooner in the alleged $650,000 kickback scheme.
In her own defense, Gold told American Libraries, “We initiated an investigation last July as soon as we had substantive evidence of fraudulent billing that was brought to us by a subcontractor.” She credited the district attorney’s office for moving the case forward. “Everything they uncovered validated what we found and that’s what led to the arraignments,” Gold said. “I’m delighted about the indictments. These three individuals obviously did not have the best interests of the public at heart.”
The Bee published an editorial March 29 claiming that it was one of the newspaper’s reporters, Christina Jewett, who instigated the probe and calling Gold’s handling of the situation “gross incompetence.” The editorial argued that Gold should not only be denied a raise, she should be replaced. The library board had discussed and tabled the topic of the raise at its March 28 meeting.
Gold told AL that she had asked the board “to defer any discussion about compensation for me and that’s why they did not take action at the meeting.” Noting that the swindle was “clearly nothing that anybody wanted to see happen,” Gold said it was more important to focus on “the balance of the work that has happened under my leadership. Libraries are thriving and that is the true legacy this community will get.”
Asked how she was withstanding the public pillorying, Gold said, “The measure of leadership is not just the successes. When you have an issue, it’s taking responsibility for it and putting the solutions in place.” And that is what she says she has done. “We look at the value of the work that we do and measure and judge ourselves against those results. ‘Are you creating better libraries for the communities that you serve?’ At the end of each day, that’s the question that needs to be asked.” She pointed to the three groundbreakings and a grand opening occurring this year.
SPL filed suit October 30 against local contractor Hagginwood Services, asking for more than $1.3 million in restitution and damages. The suit names Mayle and Rankins-Mayle, seeking recovery breach of contract, negligence, false claims, and fraud. Mayle was the library’s security supervisor prior to beginning a workers compensation leave in 2005. Rankins-Mayle, his wife, was registered as owner of a subcontractor called All City. Nilsson was placed on administrative leave last June and resigned in September. Gold told AL that SPL filed for summary judgment in March but is still waiting. The Mayles and Nilsson are each free on $45,000 bail.
Posted on April 4, 2008; modified April 14, 2008. Discuss.