General Crime

* Port of Oakland Maritime Director James Kwon Placed on Leave Pending Investigation of Allegedly Spending Public Money at Strip Clubs

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The Port of Oakland’s maritime director has been ordered to return from a business trip and take paid administrative leave as port officials investigate allegations that he spent $4,500 in public funds at a strip club. Port officials Friday said the port’s Acting Executive Director Deborah Ale Flint has ordered Maritime Director James Kwon to return from overseas business travel and be placed on administrative leave.

The decision comes on the heels of the discovery that Kwon allegedly spent $4,500 in port money at a Texas strip club in 2008, according to the port. Port officials did not immediately notice the improper expenditures because the name of the strip club on the receipt was not evident, according to statements from the port. As an investigation into the alleged expenditures gets underway, the port has also asked its executive director, Omar Benjamin, to take a paid administrative leave.

The port hired law firm Arnold and Porter to investigate the allegations and has set up an employee assistance program to respond to port workers’ concerns about improper expenditures or other issues. Employees may file a report anonymously by calling the Whistleblower Hotline at (866) 840-7787 or online via the Port of Oakland website.

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