Salt Lake City's animal control director has been fired after admitting he violated city money-management policies.
Lou Lynes, who has headed the city's animal control division since 1984, was fired Monday after city officials learned of irregularities in the way cash receipts were reported. The discovery was made while conducting "normal internal procedures," according to Karen Suzuki-Okabe, director of the city's Department of Human Resource Management.City officials said Monday they have referred the matter to the Salt Lake County attorney, who is conducting an investigation.
The problems came to light last week. City officials declined to provide further details, including the amount of money involved, saying they did not want to jeopardize the investigation.
Lynes, who earned about $40,000 a year, had been sharply criticized in recent months by members of Wasatch Humane, a private non-profit group that monitors animal control agencies.
Lynn Bradak, a member of the group, said she was frustrated by the agency's unwillingness to open its facility and its budget to scrutiny by the group. She said Wasatch Humane had a good relationship with the agency until about a year ago.
"I'm actually reassured by this," she said Monday. "The last time I sent a request to them was a week and a half ago, and it included some questions about accounting."We can't downplay the contributions Lou made when he first came here. But over the last year and a half we have had a lot of complaints about his staff. They were simple matters, the kind of things that would've been taken care of had there been a supervisor present. But he was never in, it seemed to us."
Bradak said she was concerned about allegations she heard concerning the use of city vehicles and the way in which mileage records were kept. She also had received complaints concerning employees selling animals on their own, but she could provide no proof of any of the allegations.
While declining comment on the details of the investigation, city officials said the allegations were not related to the concerns raised by Wasatch Humane. "This is more a human tragedy than anything," Suzuki-Okabe said.
When questioned about the allegations earlier this year, Lynes provided the Deseret News a tour of the facility and denied any wrongdoing. He apologized for the shelter's ramshackle appearance, saying it was an old building and that repairs were being made as city funds became available.
Lynes could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Joe Reno, deputy director of the Department of Human Resource Management, will assume Lynes' duties until a replacement can be found, officials said.