Records Show City Flagged Former Sanitation Director’s Spending Habits Numerous Times

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FORT SMITH (KFSM)—5NEWS has been following events that took place leading up to the firing of the last department of sanitation director.

Records show in August 2015, a number of discrepancies were flagged on Baridi Nkokheli's credit card and travel expense reimbursement reports.

Nkokheli was flagged for 20 items on the expense report, which include renting a luxury car in Tampa and arriving three days early for a conference.

He was asked to pay the city back more than $1,500, which acting city administrator Jeff Dingman said Nkokheli eventually did.

Memos by the finance department in May 2006, July 2006 and June 2009 also reprimand Nkokheli for not following city policy.

In 2013 and 2014, invoices show Nkokheli spent more than $6,100 on orders for custom link bracelets with the sanitation department logo on them. Expense reports also show almost $2,500 was spent on promotional products last year.

Documents also show Fort Smith Police looked into criminal allegations against Nkokheli 2.5 months before he was fired, which included accusations such as receiving kickbacks from vendors and misuse of travel funds.

We asked city administrator Jeff Dingman for a copy of the file. He provided us with a copy with several redacted paragraphs, and even an entire page blacked out.

The Fort Smith Police Department has since released the documents to us in their entirety.

The redactions included allegations of suspicious name changes, giving away sanitation department property and signed statements from two former employees saying Nkokheli brought firearms to the workplace in violation of city policy and possibly state law.

No criminal charges were ultimately filed against Nkokheli.

Dingman said he redacted the information under the advice of the city attorney because those items weren't necessarily used as justification for firing him.

Nkokheli`s spending was never flagged under the tenure of former city administrator Ray Gosack that we know of.

He was fired by Dingman in December 2015.

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