A group of 14 employees have been fired from the Midway Museum in connection with the alleged sale and recycling of metals from the historic aircraft carrier, according to a museum spokesperson.
According to a newsletter sent by the museum to its volunteers, 14 employees from the Midway’s engineering department were recently axed.
The newsletter states that metals such as steel, copper and aluminum – which are highly valuable in the recycling business – were allegedly taken from the aircraft carrier for recycling, but only a portion of the proceeds were returned to the Midway.
“This involves several hundreds of thousands of dollars over several years,” the newsletter added. “All those involved in this activity are no longer employed and are no longer welcomed on board.”
The newsletter named facilities manager and former Navy master chief Vic Zambrano as the ringleader in the alleged metals scheme. He has been with the Midway since 2003.
Zambrano was in charge of supervising the demolition of certain areas of the Midway to make way for future displays. The demo work yielded the scrap metal that was supposed to be sold to generate money for the museum.
"It's a national treasure, and a lot of people worked their whole lives and died," said Midway visitor Peter Little. "The people who built it, the people stationed here, all the visitors who've come to see it since then, it's a slap in the face to everybody."
Midway marketing director, Scott McGaugh, said an internal investigation was conducted regarding the metals back in December. The findings were then turned over to the San Diego Police Department.
McGaugh said the selling of the metals without the return of proceeds to the museum had been going on for a long time.
This isn't the first time an employee has allegedly stolen from the USS Midway Museum.
In 2009, a Midway Museum employee by the name of Veronica Monay was accused of embezzling thousands of dollars from the nonprofit.
Monay spent three years employed at the Midway Museum as an accounting manager. Police said Monay used her position to embezzle a large amount of money from the museum.
Initially, Monay denied the embezzlement allegations. About a month later, she changed her tune and admitted to stealing $110,000 in cash deposits from the museum. She pleaded guilty to grand theft and fraudulent appropriations by an employee.