Santa Clara County Department Director Fired After NBC Investigation

The Santa Clara County Director of Child Support Services is no longer in charge.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to remove John Vartanian from the position in A closed session yesterday. The county announced the decision in today’s public board meeting.

It comes just weeks after NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit exposed Vartanian gained personal travel rewards from county-funded trips.

The Investigative Unit uncovered Vartanian used his personal credit card to charge more than $55,000 in county travel for MORE THAN 30 employees since 2008. Documents show he used rewards credit cards and applied his personal hotel rewards numbers to rack up bonus points, then WAS reimbursed by the county for the charges.

The Unit also found earlier this month the charges went beyond travel to include nearly $50,000 in parking spaces and $3000 in office supplies, totaling $162,330.48 of charges to his personal card for county expenses since 2003.

County officials had placed Vartanian on paid administrative leave since September 9 pending completion of an internal investigation.

County Executive Jeff Smith told the Investigative Unit the county cannot comment on personnel matters, but that interim leadership will be put in place until the board appoints a replacement.

“All I can say is that the department is going to be run by the county executive’s office at this point,” County Executive, Jeff Smith told the Investigative Unit. “We will keep it going well until the board appoints a new director.”

Smith acknowledged that leadership changes are not usually handled in this way in the county:

“It’s a little peculiar, usually there’s not a break in leadership but at this point we will have an interim,” Smith said. “The department will continue to function well. They are good people and know how to do their work, so I’m not worried about that.”

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