RICHMOND -- The second in command at City Hall violated several city policies, including using a city-provided car while also pocketing a monthly car allowance and misusing public employees and equipment, according to an independent investigation released to the city Friday.
The investigation by Sacramento-based Van Dermyden Allison Law was prompted by a city employee's allegations that assistant city manager Leslie Knight used public employees and facilities to enrich herself with a trinket business operated on city property and retaliated against those who spoke out.
The investigation "rejected most allegations of misconduct against (Knight)," a city news release said, but did find that she broke at least four city policies.
Stacie Plummer, 43, a finance manager in the Library and Cultural Services Department, prompted the investigation by circulating a 59-page complaint, including photographs, to top city officials and county, state and federal investigators late last year.
The city did not make the investigative report public, citing employee privacy laws.
In a two-page release issued Friday by his office, City Manager Bill Lindsay noted that the investigation's finding rejected allegations that Knight "spied" on Plummer with surveillance equipment, and found that she did not did not abuse her power or retaliate, harass or treat subordinates unequally.
But in addition to pocketing hundreds per month in car allowances while also using a city car, Knight did direct a subordinate to access Plummer's email account after she filed her complaint and did use staff time, equipment and city storage rooms to "create free gift items ... for city employees," according to the release.
"(Knight) did not receive any financial gain from this practice," the release said.
Knight's monthly car allowance was $450, according to Plummer's complaint.
Reached late Friday, Plummer said the report was just the "tip of the iceberg," and that she hopes it will prompt additional investigation by the District Attorney's Office and the FBI. Plummer also noted the absence of specific disciplinary measures against Knight.
"She misused public funds and she retaliated, (the report) concludes that clearly," Plummer said. "Lindsay says there is zero tolerance for retaliation against employees, but it seems like it's still being tolerated."
Lindsay could not be reached for comment Friday but said in the news release that privacy rules prohibit disclosure of what, if any, disciplinary actions will be taken.
" ... I believe it to be appropriate to take administrative action to correct the situation," Lindsay said in the release. "However, the problems did not merit the termination of any employee."
Knight's secretary said Friday she was not in the office and was unavailable for comment.
Knight, 57, was one of Lindsay's first hires when he took the city manager position in 2005. She quit her post as Contra Costa County's human resources director to take the top personnel post in Richmond. Her base salary in 2011 was $220,000, with total compensation of $281,507, according to this newspaper's public employee salary database.
Plummer said she observed Knight misusing resources and breaking city policies from 2005 to 2011. Asked why she didn't report wrongdoing sooner, Plummer said she was afraid of repercussions and that misuse of public resources was pervasive in City Hall.
The investigation cost the city about $30,000.
Contact Robert Rogers at 510-262-2726 and follow him at Twitter.com/roberthrogers.