For the third time in four months, a city Department of Transportation employee has been investigated for unethical behavior while on the job. The latest case involves a now-former manager who investigators say was pulling double duty as a driver for a rideshare service and falsifying hours on his timesheet.
A one-page report released today by the Office of the Inspector General says investigators received a tip that the manager was out giving rides during regular work hours, and “frequently arrived late for work, while reporting normal work hours on his timesheet.” That amounts to time and attendance fraud, Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming wrote.
Investigators could not confirm the manager was rolling in late while claiming he arrived on-time, but they did find evidence about the on-the-clock rideshare gig.
There were four separate days when the manager was out giving rides—the OIG did not specify which—and all of them were “outside of the Baltimore metropolitan area and in the area where the manager lived.”
“On three of the four occasions, the manager’s schedule indicated he attended DOT related meetings in the same areas where the ridesharing records indicated he drove,” Cumming wrote.
The manager, who’s no longer working for the department, denied to the OIG that he was out working a side job giving rides.
Investigators also found a dozen cases in which the manager “submitted questionable compensatory time slips,” including on days when he was not due to receive those hours, and inflated hours he was working comp time.
“The OIG investigation found the manager operated with little to no oversight, which enabled him to submit the questionable compensatory time,” the report said.
DOT spokespeople have not responded to a request for comment on the OIG’s findings.
Investigators have referred the case to the Law Department. Asked if the city might sue the unnamed individual for repayment of lost wages, City Solicitor Andre Davis wrote in an email, “Yes, IF we decide to take action, it would be a simple suit against the former employee. No decision has yet been made.”
Only a week ago, the OIG released a report detailing time theft by two traffic maintenance workers who investigators found were going home while on the clock, hanging out and then driving back to work to finish their shifts. They found a pattern: one of the workers would drop off the other at his house, then head home to his own house before they both made their way back. Both of them were fired.
Another investigation, the findings of which were published in February, found employees in DOT’s Signs and Markings Section had been conducting private business at work, and determined a $215,000 metal fabrication machine had proven to be “a waste of City funds” because few workers were trained to use it.
The OIG is pursuing a broader investigation into the overall morale of the department, The Sun reported in April. The department’s now-former director, Pugh administration hire Michelle Pourciau, resigned four days after word got out about that probe.
Asked about the pattern of recent investigations into DOT, Lester Davis, a spokesman for Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, said it’s more so a sign of the administration’s “strong partnership with the inspector general” than an indication of any deeper-rooted issues within the department.
He noted Young helped to strengthen the office during his time as city council president, before he was elevated to the position of mayor after Catherine Pugh’s May 1 resignation. Voters approved a measure to make the OIG independent of the mayor’s office last fall, after council members approved a bill to put it on the ballot.
“What we’re seeing is when you have more robust inspection, you’re gonna have a healthier agency,” Lester Davis said. “I think it’s more attributable to that than any wide-standing structural issues with the agency.”
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