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Whistleblower says state paid a million not to promote him

It’s a capital-city tradition to characterize government employees as overpaid and under-worked. But that stereotype holds special irony for California Department of Corrections (CDC) employee Richard Krupp, who is astounded that the state has agreed to pay him $500,000 for work he didn’t do.

Krupp has been battling with his employer for several years, ever since he was retaliated against for exposing sick-leave and overtime-pay excesses at the CDC (see “The code of silence,” SN&R Cover, May 13). After he blew the whistle on the problem, his career path was abruptly stymied; he was deprived of promotional opportunities; and later, his wife, a CDC captain, was placed under investigation. The State Personnel Board (SPB) agreed with Krupp that he had suffered retaliation, but the state then appealed the SPB ruling.

Earlier this month, in the middle of the SPB appeal process, the state and Krupp reached a settlement. Krupp said he just wanted the promotion to which he was entitled and for the state to pay his attorney fees. “What I told CDC was, ‘If you promote me and pay my attorney fees, you don’t have to pay me a dollar,’” he said. “And they said, ‘No, we have a new policy that we can’t do that. The only thing we can do is pay you money,’” he said. In effect, the CDC agreed to pay Krupp the difference between what he would have made, over the remainder of his career, had he gotten the promotion, and what he makes now. “As opposed to just giving me the promotion so I could earn the money,” he said.

“What they did, if you add the money they gave me plus the money they spent on legal fees, they spent a million dollars not to promote me. It makes no sense,” he said. Under the boilerplate terms of the settlement, “neither party admits to any wrongdoing or liability or fault,” according to CDC spokeswoman Terry Thornton. The legalese means that the CDC administrators responsible for the retaliation against Krupp and his wife will skate, despite CDC Director Jeanne Woodford’s recent proclamation that employees who retaliate against whistleblowers will be punished.

The CDC also insisted that Krupp’s wife, who had nothing to do with his legal action, agree to give up any claims she might have against the CDC for the bogus investigation against her, which later was dropped. Krupp is also annoyed that before the ink was dry on the settlement paperwork, the terms were leaked to The Sacramento Bee. Citing information it received from the CDC, the Bee erroneously reported that the $500,000 payment also settled “claims filed against the agency by Krupp’s wife.” “She never filed a claim,” Krupp explained. “I told that to [Sacramento Bee reporter Andy] Furillo, and he put it in there anyway. He sounded like he had already written his article before he talked to me, and based it on whatever information the CDC gave him.”