City workers at San Francisco’s Public Utilities Commission are under investigation for online gambling and distributing pornography in the workplace, the agency has confirmed.

For months, the SFPUC and city attorney’s office have been looking into charges of misconduct by workers at the city agency, PUC spokesman Tyrone Jue told KQED’s Aarti Shahani. Jue said the internal investigation is nearly complete, and that the agency will be initiating personnel actions in accordance with city policies within a few weeks.

“There were a number of employees alleged to have been involved in online gambling and pornographic distribution,” Jue said. “This has the utmost attention of our senior managers here in the agency because San Francisco and the PUC have a zero tolerance for employees that misuse city resources, because that’s a betrayal of the public trust.” Jue said “several” employees are subjects of the investigation but would not confirm an exact number.

The city attorney’s office becomes involved as a matter of course whenever misuse of city resources is alleged, Jue said. He said no determination has been made yet as to whether any criminal conduct was involved.

The PUC became mired in a previous worker scandal in 2009, when employees who worked on Treasure Island were criminally prosecuted for embezzlement and other charges related to defrauding the city of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The ringleader of that crew received a sentence of three years in prison.

Jue said his agency does not have a chronic problem. But he says it can be difficult to prevent computer-related misconduct.

“As much as you try to — we monitor bandwidth, we monitor sites that people go to — when people want to do bad things, they find workarounds, whatever roadblocks you try to set up.”

The City and County of San Francisco’s Employee Handbook states that use of city resources for “personal, political, employee organization or other non-City business is strictly prohibited.” The handbook specifically mentions online gambling and “viewing or distributing materials that are not related to City business or that are sexually explicit” as violations of city policy, which could result in “discipline, up to and including termination of employment.”

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