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Ex-city supervisor jailed in theft case

  • BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM
    Former street sweeper supervisor Manuel Castro, right, stood with attorney Howard Luke yesterday during his sentencing in Circuit Judge Randal K.O. Lee's courtroom.
  • BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM
    "You got people, who perhaps would not be involved in criminal activity, involved. And the worst part, required them to kick back moneys to you in order for them to get overtime."
    Circuit Judge Randal K.O. Lee,
    speaking to Manuel Castro
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It was another employee of the city’s street sweeper section who blew the whistle on his supervisor for taking kickbacks from subordinates for overtime the subordinates did not even work, said Chris Van Marter, a deputy city prosecutor.

The employee told police his supervisor would not give him overtime "yet was giving others overtime on the condition that they kick back a portion of the overtime they were receiving for work never performed," Van Marter said.

The now-former supervisor, Manuel Castro, 51, started serving a one-year jail term yesterday for bribery, second-degree theft and tampering with a government record.

Circuit Judge Randal K.O. Lee imposed the jail term yesterday as a condition of a five-year probation sentence. Lee also ordered Castro to pay a $25,000 fine, perform 250 hours of community service, write a letter of apology to the city and repay the city $19,505 prosecutors were able to prove he drew in overtime for himself for work he did not do.

Lee said he imposed the fine, the maximum allowed for bribery, because he said Castro should not profit from his crimes.

Castro admitted what he did was foolish and stupid. He asked Lee not to send him to jail.

"I do believe that people deserve second chances. And I’m asking for that chance," Castro said.

Lee told Castro his actions deserve going to jail.

"You got people, who perhaps would not be involved in criminal activity, involved. And the worst part, required them to kick back moneys to you in order for them to get overtime," Lee said.

Van Marter said Castro already got a second chance, having been previously convicted for theft and robbery in 1986 and 1987 respectively.

Castro denied knowledge or involvement in theft, bribery and tampering when police initially confronted him with the accusations in 2009 then later admitted he did it to boost his retirement, Van Marter said. Castro, a 30-year city employee, retired soon after confessing.

Lee said if it was up to him, he would have fired Castro instead of letting him retire.

Van Marter said he will advise the state Employee Retirement System to adjust Castro’s retirement pay, which is now based on inflated earnings. He said Castro’s base pay in 2008 was approximately $50,000, yet he drew $96,000 because of overtime.

Four others — three subordinates and another supervisor — have already pleaded guilty or no contest to theft in connection with the case.

Joseph A. Sardinha III, Lydell J. Herodies and Roman G. Thomas have been granted deferrals of their pleas and the opportunity to clear the charges from their criminal records. Michael C. Domingo is scheduled for sentencing later this month at which time he will receive a term of probation with no jail time, according to his plea agreement with the state.

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