You better watch out

    On Wednesday, a 39-year old former city clerk named Kelly Kaufman Layre was sentenced to two years in prison for illegally selling city traffic accident reports, police incident reports and fire reports to businesses who didn’t want to pay the fees normally charged.

    She apparently got away with her scam for four years and made $185,000 before somebody called in a tip to the city Inspector General’s office.

    The three people Layre was selling the stuff to were also busted. They’re all among the latest miscreants nailed by city Inspector General Amy Kurland since she came to the city from the U.S. Attorney’s office in 2008.

    Kurland, whose father was city solicitor under Wilson Goode, has been busy and effective, and deserves some recognition.

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    She’s not only worked tirelessly to root out fraud and corruption, referring cases for prosecution when warranted. She’s made the rounds to city offices, warehouses, and garages, letting employees know what the rules are, and telling them doing the right thing is their smartest course.

    You can get a feel for her work in this 2009 report.

    We in the media have written a lot about public corruption writ large: Vince Fumo, John Perzel, and the friends of former Mayor John Street who saw the business end of a federal indictment.

    But government is undermined just as much, maybe more, by small time waste and theft.

    I’ve known countless dedicated city employees in my years covering city hall, and I’ve never believed the typical civil servant is lazy, indifferent or corrupt.

    But the city hasn’t always had the strongest middle management, and if stealing and scamming seem easy and risk free, heaven only knows what the tab for taxpayers will be.

    Which is why what Kurland and her team do is important. It’s not just the ones they catch. It’s the ones who get the message that somebody is watching and clean up their act.

    One of Kurland’s early cases involved Mona Lamberson, who was charged with of stealing 28 city cell phones and renting them to family, friends and eight city employees.

    She was apparently so unconcerned about being caught that the phones stayed on city accounts while she collected cash from her renters. They racked up $30,000 in city charges.

    Lamberson was charged with theft, and with obstruction of justice for instructing her clients to ditch the phones and deny any knowledge of the scheme.

    Lamberson lost her job and city pension in 2008 and got five years probation. I’m sure word of her demise got around the technology office where she worked.

    I just hope that top city managers are looking carefully at these cases, and asking how the employees were getting over so easily.

    If not, Kurland will stay very busy.

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