MOUNT VERNON — While city officials look into allegations of fraud and theft by a city employee, the News has confirmed a water/wastewater employee lost $2,671 in overtime compensation in 2008. Safety-Service Director Dave Glass would not confirm if it is the same employee in both situations.
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In the case of the loss of overtime compensation, the employee was found to have left the work site before jobs were completed, an action that is against city policy.
According to a report compiled by the Ohio State Auditor’s Office, “The city did dock the individual in question a few hours on call outs where they had knowledge where he may have went home before the work call was done.”
Glass confirmed this morning the employee lost overtime compensation.
“There was an employee who lost some overtime hours because they were inappropriate,” he said.
The auditor’s report states it is unclear in the union contract whether the employee is required to stay on the job site until the work is completed.
“The safety-service director indicated that his interpretation of the union contract is that he should be on site for each hour of OT and will work with union to clarify the requirements on call out OT,” the report stated.
The city is looking into the allegations of fraud and theft, brought to the Mount Vernon Police Department by Pam Muralt, water/wastewater billing and customer service administrator, in December 2009. Muralt declined to discuss the police report but confirmed it was an employee at the State Auditor’s Office that directed her to file a report with local law enforcement officials.
Glass said he has been aware of the allegations for about a year.
“Once it runs its course as a police matter, then it comes back as a personnel matter and an in-house matter,” Glass said.
According to the report released by the MVPD, the employee allegedly used other city employees and equipment to deliver topsoil to a private residence.
According to MVPD Detective Craig Feeney’s report, the employee said he had an agreement with Glass to have a payment for the topsoil taken out of his pay, but did not remember the amount being deducted from his pay. The report states that Glass told Feeney there was no such conversation and therefore no agreement, and that Glass later sent a statement to Feeney “indicating that he never offered or suggested that the issue with the topsoil be resolved by accepting payment for the topsoil.”
“I have in no way implied that stealing topsoil is only worth the cost of the topsoil. There is equipment, there is people, there is trucks. That $14.50 that’s quoted in [the police report] as the cost of the topsoil, but [the total loss to the city] is probably a couple of hundred dollars in equipment and personnel,” Glass said this morning.
The MVPD report also states the unnamed employee was accused of falsifying call-out orders in order to acquire overtime pay or comp time. The employee allegedly reported making after-hours calls to an address that was later confirmed to not have a water meter. In addition, a homeowner confirmed that no complaint was made on their property, although a work order suggested otherwise. Also in question were call-out requests made by MVPD dispatchers.
According to documents acquired by the News, the city has reorganized how after-hours work orders are handled.
“When police call-outs are completed, the police department sends a police call-out form ... to the water and wastewater department administrators and these administrators are able to agree the overtime logs of the distribution crew with regards to police call-outs to the police sheets. This was completed in response to the alleged situation (management is cognizant of situation),” stated a report on a 2009 FRAQ Conference issued by the Ohio State Auditor’s Office.
“The documentation of the policies has been changed,” Glass said this morning. “There is an actual written note that the dispatcher would fill out and it would go to the department head after the incident, just so there is a more detailed log of what happened.”
The MVPD turned its investigation over to the Knox County Prosecutor’s Office. At this time, no charges have been filed against the employee. Unless a suspect is charged with a crime, all mentions of his or her name are redacted from public record.
Glass said he intends to meet with Bill Smith, city law director, and an attorney who assists the city with collective bargaining contracts to discuss the matter. A final decision from the city is not expected until next week.
When asked how the union would play into any decisions made by the city, Glass said, “I don’t think the union comes into play much. It’s a personnel matter. If it’s a violation of work rules, it’s a violation of work rules.”
When asked why, if that were the case, the fraud and theft allegations were not addressed previously by city officials, Glass said, “They were allegations. It has just now come to light that there could be some substance to them. If you look back, the two problems with the time sheets were taken care of a year ago whenever those things came up.”
A call to the MVPD asking if it were possible the case could be referred to the city prosecutor for misdemeanor charges was unreturned at press time.