Former Sunnyside mechanic terminated for embezzlement

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. -- Sunnyside says it uncovered a worker embezzling taxpayer money. A mechanic was fired for buying auto parts that weren't used on city cars or trucks.

A tip led to an investigation. And Sunnyside says it found an employee buying goods, with the city's checkbook.

The city believes Wayne Linder spent more than $2,300 of Sunnyside's money to buy auto parts. Linder was a mechanic.

Sunnyside's City Manager Don Day says Linder purchased cars parts made in the 1960's.

"Very unusual purchases," said Day. "We don't have equipment that those would match."

It wasn't difficult to see the parts wouldn't fit any cars owned by the city. Day says Linder was terminated last month. This investigation showed chinks in the armor of Sunnyside's method of spending money.

"It's very concerning to me simply because there are a lot of factors that made this possible," said Day.

Day says changes have been made so this doesn't happen again. Employees had credit cards taken away. And a second set of eyes checks all purchases.

A criminal investigation against Linder is pending. Sunnyside Police plan to go back a few years into purchases the former mechanic made.

Still, Day says this problem was the result of a number of issues.

"Seeing that there was a lack of oversight, the turnover of the city manager's position, people were kind of left without leadership and direction so I wasn't really surprised," said Day.

Sunnyside says it will weigh its options on seeking restitution after the criminal investigation is done.

To get all sides, we made calls to Linder, but we did not get a response.