AUGUSTA, Ga. – The city of Augusta and longer needs some old fire trucks, so they were put up for sale. But, in the future, any city surplus sold on the website will be paid for differently.

“As of this morning, I’ve signed a new contract agreement with GovDeals, which means we will no longer be accepting cash payments for anything we auction off,” said City Administrator Janice Jackson.

Mug shot photo of 48-year-old Patricia Lee Ystenes (Courtesy: Richmond County Sheriff's Office)
Mug shot photo of 48-year-old Patricia Lee Ystenes (Courtesy: Richmond County Sheriff’s Office)

But, the city was accepting a lot of cash from its surplus sales off the website and Richmond County Sheriff’s Office investigators believe more than $65,000 was stolen by the Augusta Fleet Management Department’s administrative coordinator, 15-year employee Patricia Lee Ystenes, who was once a city employee of the month.

“It’s hurtful, it really is hurtful, you feel you’ve been deceived and betrayed,” said Jackson.

Fleet manager Ron Crowden was Ystenes’ boss and acknowledges this happened on his watch. “I have responsibility for her. She worked directly for me. Over 15 years, you develop a level of trust, you work with her every day, she basically failed my trust,” said Crowden.

Crowden has also been investigated about the alleged theft, including taking a lie detector test. “I was given a clean bill of health and told I could leave,” said Crowden. “So you passed?” we asked. “Yes,” he said.

“The most important safeguard is not accepting cash, as far as I’m concerned, so unfortunately that was not in place, but it is as off today,” Jackson added.

Ystenes was placed on administrative leave when this investigation started two weeks ago, and is currently in the process of being terminated. That is expected to take place once the Sheriff’s Office completes its investigation.