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 user 2009-07-30 at 11:07:40 am Views: 58
  • #22597
    Ex-Office Depot worker says company asked him to falsify records on Berkeley overcharges
    Fremont man, claiming he lost his job at Office Depot because he
    refused to falsify data that showed the company overcharged the city of
    Berkeley hundreds of thousands of dollars, is suing the office-supply
    giant in federal court.Earl Ante, a former Office Depot salesman, seeks
    unspecified damages for lost wages, benefits, mental distress and
    punitive damages. He filed the suit in federal court in San Francisco
    about the same time the owner of a rival office-supply store in
    Hercules used purchasing records she obtained through a public records
    request to show Berkeley officials that Office Depot overcharged the
    city $289,000 from early 2007 to early 2009.Berkeley officials
    conducted their own investigation of the city’s contract with Office
    Depot and came to the same conclusion. Office Depot paid back the city
    in April.

    In a letter to Berkeley Councilman Kriss Worthington,
    who helped uncover the Office Depot overcharges, Ante’s attorney said
    he will subpoena city records relating to the contract and depose “the
    most knowledgeable person in connection with these allegations.”If
    Ante’s allegations prove true, he deserves a pat on the back for
    refusing to alter the data, Worthington said.”It’s wonderful to learn
    that some employee would have the ethics to not just do what he was
    ordered to do,” Worthington said. “Based on what he is claiming, it
    seems like if he had gone along and changed the records, the city might
    not havethis info, so we’re lucky he didn’t do it if that’s what he was
    asked. They should be grateful to an employee who is honest.”

    Depot’s legal woes since have escalated, and the company says it is
    cooperating with attorneys general in California, Florida, Texas,
    Missouri, Colorado and Ohio regarding contract discrepancies. It is
    also under investigation by the U.S. Department of Defense, Department
    of Education and the General Services Administration.

    to the suit filed by Ante in January, he was laid off Nov. 21. The suit
    claims that Ante had no knowledge Berkeley was being overcharged. When
    Office Depot learned that Berkeley was about to audit its contract, the
    suit says Ante’s manager “directed him to alter data on his company
    computer with respect to the record of transactions between the City of
    Berkeley and the defendant.”Ante’s lawyer, John McMorrow, was out of
    town and unavailable for comment.Office Depot declined to comment on
    the lawsuit. On Tuesday, the company reported a net loss of $82 million
    in the second quarter on a 22 percent decline in sales.