Accounting Error Leaves 28 Jobless

An accounting error leaves 28 San Mateo County court employees without jobs

By Damian Trujillo
|  Wednesday, Sep 2, 2009  |  Updated 5:02 AM PDT
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Accounting Error Leaves 28 Jobless

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San Mateo County courts cut 28 employees from their payroll after they discovered that their budget was millions of dollars in the red.

An accounting blunder in the San Mateo County court system left 28 employees without jobs on Tuesday.

Court worker Ron Lopez got his pink slip at 11 a.m. yesterday after managers discovered that the court was $3.9 million in the red.

"It's draining. One minute, you're angry, then scared and sad. And now just numb," said Lopez.

Lopez and his 27 former colleagues lost their jobs as a result of an accounting oversight that obscured the court's financial predicament. Court officials first planned to cut 60 jobs from the payroll, but were able to reduce that number after trimming expenditures and nabbing $3 million from reserves.

Court clerk Ken Wood was one of those spared from the layoffs. "Somebody's head has to roll for it," Wood said.

"It looked like we had a... balanced budget," said court administrator John Fitton. "Those documents proved to be incorrect."

"It was disturbing to me personally because we had worked so hard and been so open and transparent with our process with our unions and our staff," said Fitton.

The workers' union plans to raise its own money to hire an outside auditor to inspect the court's books.

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