General Crime

* Omar Benjamin Oakland port’s Executive Director placed on administrative leave

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The Oakland Board of Port Commissioners placed the port’s Executive Director Omar Benjamin on paid administrative leave Thursday while an investigation into allegations of improper expenditures is conducted. Director of Aviation Deborah Ale Flint has been assigned to perform the duties of the executive director while Benjamin is on leave, according to the Oakland Board of Port Commissioners.

The Port of Oakland’s Board of Port Commissioners crackdown on improper employee expenditures continues after the recent discovery that a port official spent $4,500 in public money at a strip club. Recent public records requests revealed that the employee spent the money at a Houston, Texas, strip club in 2008, according to the port. The expenditure was not immediately noticed because the name of the venue is not evident on the receipt, according to the port.

The receipt listed the business as “D. Houston, Inc.,” which the port officials later learned is the corporate name for Treasures Strip Club. The Port of Oakland has engaged the firm of Arnold & Porter to investigate the case and determine whether Port of Oakland funds were misused. An employee assistance program has been set up by the Port of Oakland to respond to employee concerns.

The Port of Oakland has urged employees to utilize the port’s Whistleblower Hotline to report any potential related issues. According to the Port of Oakland’s website, a third-party independent provider, EthicsPoint, has been contracted to operate and maintain the Whistleblower Hotline.

Employees can file a report anonymously by calling the Whistleblower Hotline at (866) 840-7787 or online via the Port of Oakland website. “We continue to take this situation very seriously,” Board President Gilda Gonzales said in a statement. “Holding those responsible, accountable is our highest priority.

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