Report: Former Animal Welfare director spent city funds on Apple products, office upgrade

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A new report released by the City of Albuquerque shows a former high-ranking city employee took advantage of his position and taxpayer dollars. More than $10,000 worth of Apple products, a $15,000 office remodel and an attempt to buy an expensive car are purchases that are all laid out in the Office of the Inspector General’s report.

The OIG said it found that city funds were used to purchase items merely for convenience which is prohibited. Former Albuquerque Animal Welfare Director Danny Nevarez bought the majority for himself. Nevarez stocked up on Apple Watches, laptops, AirPods, iPads, iPhones, and more. When the OIG asked Nevarez if he considered the Apple Watch and AirPods to be items of convenience, Nevarez stated “that’s a good question.”

Now, Animal Welfare Director Carolyn Ortega told the OIG she thought the purchases were overkill. “As far as the type of equipment that was purchased maybe wasn’t a decision that I would have made,” Ortega said.

Ortega said she is returning the items Nevarez brought over from when he was with the Environmental Health Department. The rest will be reassigned to Ortega’s staff. “Now that a lot of us are working from home, it will be fully utilized,” Ortega said.

After other OIG reports about Ortega’s predecessor ranging from handing out expensive city contracts to friends and inconsistencies in animal documentation, Ortega said she is bringing a fresh perspective to the department. “There is a perceived mistrust, and I really want to change that perspective,” Ortega said.

Ortega said she is working to put controls in place to prevent the misuse of city funds.

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