PLACERVILLE, CA - The El Dorado County Sheriff's Office is investigating five uniformed employees for using questionable college diplomas to boost their pay.
Sgt. Jim Byers said an internal audit of the department's 166 deputies and officers found five of them presented degrees from unaccredited colleges.
El Dorado County offers sworn personnel a 2 percent pay raise for a community college degree and a 5 percent pay raise for a bachelor's degree.
A mid-level deputy sheriff making $63,835 per year can boost his or her pay to $67,027 with a four-year diploma.
Byers said Sheriff Fred Kollar ordered the audit after the educational background of former sheriff candidate Stan Perez was challenged earlier this year. Perez withdrew from the race when it was revealed his degree came from a notorious diploma mill.
While the internal investigation is still underway, the sheriff's department has asked the district attorney to determine where there was any criminal intent on the part of the five employees.
The names and ranks of those being investigated have not been released. One source in the department said even if the employees are not disciplined, they could be forced to repay tens of thousands of dollars.
by George Warren, GWarren@news10.net