Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
FILE - Food items sit in a pile of trash as employees work Friday, Sept. 11, 2015, at the Salt Lake Valley landfill.

SALT LAKE CITY — A former Salt Lake County landfill employee was charged Tuesday with misusing public money after police say he stole at least $25,000 in facility fees while working as a cashier.

Raymond Gilbert Fernandez, 29, of West Jordan, is accused of manipulating the receipt and point of sale systems at the Salt Lake Valley Solid Waste Management Facility to set aside cash for himself between April 2011 and December 2013.

Fernandez is charged in 3rd District Court with misuse of public money, a second-degree felony; theft, also a second-degree felony; and six counts of forgery, a third-degree felony. His conversation with a woman who is currently charged in a similar alleged scheme at the landfill was used to investigate the case against him, court documents indicate.

As a "scale house operator," Fernandez was responsible for greeting customers who paid varying fees for the right to use the facility to dispose of junk, court documents say. He allegedly printed duplicate receipts from sales the day before, removed the top of the receipts, which identified them as duplicates, and handed them to customers after accepting cash. This way, Fernandez could give customers receipts without having to enter the sale into the computer program where fees are recorded, charges state.

Fernandez allegedly kept track of the amount of cash received, but not entered into the computer program, and removed that amount when his shift was over.

Fernandez may have had the opportunity to alter more than 1,700 duplicate receipts solely in 2012, court documents state. In a recorded conversation in May 2015, he told former co-worker Christina Joy Patton that on a per-day basis, he stole "probably like a hundred, two hundred maybe," according to his charges.

"(It was) less sometimes. I just took enough so I could get high," Fernandez allegedly told Patton.

Patton was charged in January 2014 for a nearly identical fraudulent scheme at the same county landfill, according to court documents. She faces nine counts of third-degree felony forgery and one count each of theft and carrying out a pattern of unlawful activity, both second-degree felonies, in that ongoing case. It isn't clear from court records whether her recorded conversation with Fernandez was originally intended to be part of the formal investigation.

A warrant for Fernandez's arrest was issued Tuesday. No initial court date has been set in his case. Fernandez's criminal history in Utah includes guilty pleas to misdemeanor DUI in September 2008 and August 2013, court records show.

Patton, 28, of West Valley City, has a criminal history in Utah that includes three underage drinking related charges and a January 2015 guilty plea to driving with a measurable controlled substance in the body, a misdemeanor. In an ongoing case, she was charged with felony drug possession and misdemeanor paraphernalia possession in September 2013, court records show.

Patton pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor attempted theft in April 2015 and was placed on probation. Her next court date for the alleged fraud at the Salt Lake County landfill is a pretrial conference set for May 9 in 3rd District Court.


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