Councilman claimed thousands in undeserved benefits

Councilman Joe Carchio listed his ex-wife on city health benefits after they divorced. He has since repaid part of the owed money.

October 14, 2010|By Britney Barnes,
  • Joe Carchio

Councilman Joe Carchio, who is up for reelection in November, has taken about $6,627 in undeserved benefits, a local blogger uncovered last week.

Carchio was called out by the Surf City Voice for keeping his ex-wife on his city benefits for 19 months after they divorced — a mistake on his part, Carchio said in a written statement to the Independent on Tuesday.

"Yes, I made a mistake, but one with no intended wrongdoing," he said in a statement. "After my divorce in August of 2008, I neglected to remove my former wife from the medical benefit portion of my employment with the city."

Carchio was insured for Blue Shield medical care and Delta Care dental care for himself plus one other from Aug. 29, 2008, to March 2010, according to city records.

Carchio still has one additional person on his vision benefits, according to city records.

Vision, unlike medical and dental, doesn't cost the city any additional dollars no matter how many people are on the plan.


However, the city is still concerned about the additional person, said City Atty. Jennifer McGrath. She couldn't give specific details on how the city is handling it.

The city also can't release who the additional person is due to confidentiality issues, but Carchio confirmed in his statement that it was his ex-wife.

Carchio had 30 days after his divorce to update his benefits. He went through two open enrollment sessions without updating his plan.

The city doesn't take disciplinary action on these issues unless the person refuses to immediately rectify the situation, McGrath said.

Whether it was a mistake or intentional, the city doesn't want to utilize additional resources in court if the money is returned, she said.

The situation, in addition to the scandal of overpaid council members and city employees in the city of Bell, has caused Huntington Beach to scrutinize everyone's benefits plans.

"I've very aware of what everyone else's insurance is, what everyone else has," McGrath said. "We don't have any other errors."

After Carchio's divorce came to light, the city calculated he owed about $2,782.73 for the portion the city paid for the extra benefits. He repaid that portion Sept. 22.

However, city officials miscalculated and Carchio owes an additional $3,844.55, McGrath said. Carchio has been notified of the change, but hasn't been sent a bill yet, she said, as he has been out of town on family business.

"I feel comfortable once he comes back in town, he will pay," McGrath said.

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