Audit Reveals California Water District Officials Used Public Funds to Buy Slot Machines, Pay for Porsche Upgrades

California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra in a file photo. (Credit: Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra in a file photo. (Credit: Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

It started a year ago when state investigators uncovered 86 drums holding thousands of gallons of hazardous waste illegally buried in a rural Central Valley water district yard.

Their probe quickly widened to include allegations of misconduct that were revealed in a state audit. Soon, authorities said, they discovered that officials running the Panoche Water District misused more than $100,000 in public funds on various personal items and expenses, including slot machines, concert tickets, home improvements and Porsche upgrades.

Now, five current and former water district officials — including former General Manager Dennis Falaschi — are facing felony charges in the corruption probe, according to the California attorney general’s office.

Four of them have been arrested, and one is expected to surrender Friday, said the state Department of Toxic Substances Control. It is unclear whether any of the accused have retained attorneys.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.